In the case of another Hurricane Hermine, the ports of Manatee, Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg are now officially authorized to work together.
Director of Seaport Security for Port Manatee David St. Pierre said the ports always worked together in a “gentlemen’s agreement,” but the mutual aid interlocal agreement approved by the Manatee County Port Authority in a 5-1 vote Thursday makes it official. Manatee County District 2 Commissioner Charles Smith was absent; he attended a Florida Association of Counties meeting.
Vanessa Baugh, District 5 commissioner, was the dissenting vote. Port Tampa Bay has not historically included Port Manatee on its maps, port authority chair and at-large commissioner Betsy Benac said.
“That’s why I find it interesting they’re recognizing our existence,” Baugh said.
The agreement allows the three ports to share “supplemental equipment, supplies, docks, mooring areas, facilities or other support” in the event of an emergency or during training for an emergency, according to the port authority’s meeting agenda.
“We respond together for heavy weather purposes and Hermine was one example,” St. Pierre said. “This provides a mechanism to document that that exists.”
The agreement spans 25 years and includes provisions about time and cost of assets and personnel used.
The port authority also passed the port’s request 6-0 to file a claim against Fresh Quest Inc., a previous warehouse tenant at Port Manatee. After Fresh Quest was purchased by another company and Fresh Quest dissolved, the Manatee County Port Authority was included on its schedule of creditors. The port has until Nov. 3 to file a claim for a total of $152,983.
If the claim is unsuccessful, Port Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras said the port wouldn’t be affected.
“We’re putting our name in line to see if we can collect that six months rent purely as a fiduciary responsibility,” Buqueras said. “At least we make that effort. It’s not a lot of money.”
Buqueras said such defaults on leases don’t happen often at Port Manatee.
“It’s more likely they go out of business as opposed to being purchased by another company,” he said.
Fresh Quest’s revenue was included in the port’s 2016 fiscal year budget, but “we have exceeded their revenue by other sources,” said Virginia Zimmermann, the port’s senior manager of communications.
The port is “heavily in the black” with regard to its budget, Buqueras said.