Ports dredging for dollars
February 14, 2012
There was some good news and bad news coming for U.S. port authorities today. President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget contained a bit of both.
Even though the Administration’s budget includes cuts in order to meet the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year, there are bright spots for seaports, noted American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).
For example, there is a much-needed increase in the portion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ funding pertaining to deep-draft navigation maintenance, and funding for the Department of Transportation’s budget that pertains to enhancing America’s freight mobility.?
The president’s 2013 budget proposal includes a request for reimbursement from the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) of $848 million. This represents a nearly 12 percent increase ($90 million) over the fiscal 2012 request of $758 million and would be $28 million more than the $830 million Congress appropriated for maintenance dredging in fiscal 2012.
At the same time, the AAPA is not entirely satisfied with the president’s 2013 budget request for reimbursement from the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) of $848 million. This is a significant shortfall from the AAPA’s estimation that $1.4 billion collected annually from importers and domestic shippers for deep-draft navigation maintenance dredging.
Since the Harbor Maintenance Tax’s inception in 1986, AAPA has advocated for full use of its collections for their intended purpose of dredging America’s deep-draft navigation channels to their authorized and required depths and widths.
As we have pointed out in the past, importers and domestic shippers pay approximately double the annual amount that is drawn from the HMTF for maintenance dredging, leaving a surplus that exceeds $6.3 billion today.
We agree with the AAPA, which maintains that because this surplus has been used for other programs, there are serious dredging needs that have gone unheeded.??
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