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2020 Port budget $1.7 million

DAYTON–The Port of Columbia adopted Resolution 2019-06, Levy Certification, authorizing the Port to increase its levy rate by the 1% allowed by State law. It is estimated it will bring an additional $4,125 total in additional revenue to the Port. Executive Director Jennie Dickinson stated that the wind companies will contribute about $2,000 of this amount. The remainder of the increase, when spread over the number of homes and properties, is estimated to be minimal.

The Port also adopted its 2020 budget. Revenues from (primarily) Port Levy, Leases/Rentals, and Grants/Loans are projected to be $1.69 million, with expenses projected to be $1.57 million.

The KOA Campground at Lyons Ferry Marina reports a very good year. During 2019, the park featured cabins for rent and there is significant interest in the cabins. Travelers are already asking about reservations for next summer. These cabins are available for rent year-round.

Currently the managers’ plans include installing a new fence around the dog park, upgrading water and electrical at the upper sites, and adding landscaping around the cabins. The roofs need replaced at the upper and lower restrooms. The roofs are a landlord issue, so the cost for the roofs will come from the Port’s Marina budget.

Lastly, in order to maintain the KOA certification, the park needs to add “pull-through” RV spaces (a traveler pulls or drives their RV through the space as opposed to backing into it). This is a priority. This is beyond what the Port can pay for, so the Port and the campground managers will brainstorm for funding ideas. It is hoped for a public/private partnership similar to what was done with the cabins.

Port of Columbia Executive Director Jennie Dickinson, reported that the train is moving; it is hauling from Seneca. However, Paul Didelius of Columbia Walla Walla (CWW) Railroad has not been able to make a deal with Union Pacific to cross the last stretch between end of his section in Walla Walla, and the barge at Port Kelly, located within the upstream end of the Wallula Gap south of the confluence of the Walla Walla River and the Columbia River. So, the train will not be doing any wheat hauling this year. Northwest Grain Growers is working on this.

Also, as part of the lease agreement with CWW Railroad, the Port turned over the management of the Right of Way to Didelius. Didelius has hired a right of way management company that is currently conducting a survey of the railroad right of way. This survey will be compared to the existing leases to make sure that the leases are valid. For those who are farming near the railroad right of way without a lease, they will be contacted to enter into a lease agreement if they are using the railroad right of way without permission. Dickinson emphasized that this is not coming from the Port, but from the railroad. It is anticipated that some people will be upset.

The contract with Anderson Perry & Associates, a civil engineering firm, was heavily discussed. A significant part of the contract will involve title search for ownership on the railroad. Anderson Perry has significant map information and will research old records and verify boundaries. If it is discovered that there are portions of the railroad not owned by the Port, then the Port can, depending on the situations found and the potential outcomes, terminate the contract with a ten-day notice to avoid doing work that is unnecessary. Anderson Perry will also perform a LIDAR survey, a method that measures distance to a target by illuminating with laser and measuring the reflected light with a sensor.

And lastly, Dickinson adamantly stated that there are no plans to use eminent domain for this trail.

Dickinson reported that she has been asked to help with the 2020 Census as a Census Convener to help the Blue Mountain Action Council, Blue Mountain Community Foundation, and the Sherwood Trust. When the number of forms that were filled out was compared to the number of residences, it was determined that in the 2010 Census, Walla Walla, Columbia, and Garfield counties were severely undercounted. It is important to get an accurate count as funding for major programs that comes to our community is based on population. Regarding the Pulp Mill, it is estimated that a large number of the employees are commuting from Tri Cities and Walla Walla because they cannot find affordable housing in Dayton. The Port is working with the City Planner on this. Dickinson emphasized the importance that people working at Columbia Pulp actually live in this county and shop in the stores and eat at the restaurants to help the County have more money.