They say that records are made to be broken. After setting all-time revenue records in 2018, the Galveston Wharves broke those records in fiscal year 2019 with a 19 percent increase in revenues and a 52 percent increase in net income.

At its May meeting, the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees adopted the port’s fiscal year 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which showed total revenues of $51 million and net income of $12 million. The port also ended the year with unrestricted cash reserves of more than $14 million.

I think it’s important to take a moment to celebrate this success and consider how the business practices that contributed to another year of record-setting revenues will help sustain the port through these challenging times and recover more quickly.

As a self-funding port with no taxing authority, the board and staff have been diligent about increasing revenues while reducing expenses to build cash reserves. These reserves will help the port weather the months without cruise revenues, which accounted for more than half of port income last year.

As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives and businesses. While cruise sailings and related businesses have been suspended until at least August, the port’s diversified cargo and lay ship businesses have continued to generate revenues and jobs for the port and its partners.

Through April 2020, the port reported revenues of $11.5 million versus $12 million through April 2019. Net income was $2.1 million compared to $2.7 million through April 2019. Cash flow through April 2020 was $3 million. This, along with our unrestricted reserves, will help carry the port through the next few months.

Cruise lines indicate they may begin sailing from Galveston in August, but the board and staff have taken a fiscally conservative approach, amending the 2020 budget to reflect no cruise ship or parking revenues for the rest of the year. The amended budget also reflects no new hires or salary increases.

While cruise business is on hold, port cargo operations, such as wind, liquid bulk, fertilizer, grain, fruit produce and heavy equipment continue. Lay dockage also continues to bring in revenue as open docks are available.

Wind cargo has continued to grow. Recently, wind cargo operators leased additional land, and one of our stevedoring partners leased land at 37th Street and Harborside Drive to meet growing demand for wind cargo laydown space. Our port’s remarkable success as the preferred port for wind cargo is due to great work by our International Longshoremen’s Association workers and our rail and truck connections.

Ongoing activity at the port benefits numerous port partners. Each time a ship calls on the port, harbor tugs, pilots and line handlers work. Fuel barges, longshoremen, inspectors and suppliers also benefit.

All through the pandemic, our port has remained open and operating. This couldn’t happen without the dedication and diligence of the ILA.

Finally, I must say that I’m very proud of the port staff and their performance during these unprecedented times.

Albert Shannon is chairman of the Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees.


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