Budget Committee meetings are a time for Port board members and citizen members to publicly review the practices and operation of the Port in regards to their budgetary affects and to recommend fiscal changes as necessary. The budget is then approved and presented to the Port Commission for its approval.
Port director Jim Knight appears to interpret this duty as simply presenting the Port’s budget and expecting the Port Budget Committee to rubber stamp and approve it with minimum input and oversight.
I have served on local, county and state budget committees over the past 40 years, and I am troubled at constraints Port staff has put on the Port Budget Committee that prevents it from doing its job. Port staff has continually refused to answer questions about budget concerns that would include: failing to timely correct non-payment of rent at the Riverwalk Inn and a warehouse on Pier 2; DEQ stormwater violations of $69,319 that were not disclosed; loss of equipment value abandoned by Port tenants; and transferring Port interest in buildings for less than the fair market value. The Port’s Budget Committee needs answers to these budget concerns so it can properly plan for the next year’s budget and ensures financial accountability.
In my view, commissioner Steve Fulton has been asking these necessary budget questions all along and the public benefits from his insights. Everyone should care because these budget concerns affect the bottom line of the Port of Astoria, its future and your property taxes.
Port of Astoria Budget Committee chairman