Mayor Jim Yarbrough is on the right track suggesting the Port of Galveston needs to pay more of its revenue to the city of Galveston. Here’s my analysis why the residents of Galveston should care.
The city of Galveston owns the Port of Galveston. But what is the city of Galveston? It’s a political entity created by and for the residents of Galveston to provide goods and services that are common to us all. The city of Galveston isn’t a person.
It’s the residents of Galveston who make up the city of Galveston; and by extension, we residents are the owners of the Port of Galveston. We’re like the stockholders of Exxon who are the actual owners of Exxon, and Exxon pays quarterly dividends to its stockholders.
The Port of Galveston is an income producing asset, and I expect it to pay a portion of its profits each year to its owners via payments to the city of Galveston. I also expect the port to retain a certain amount of its profits for future growth. As the port grows, I expect the port to increase its payments.
The residents of Galveston elect a mayor and city council to represent our common interests to provide common goods and services like police and fire protection, infrastructure and clean water. Our council also appoints a board of directors for the Port of Galveston. Both the city council and the wharves board should be representing the residents of Galveston and ensure we residents derive value from our asset. That value should come from payments to the city that benefit all our residents — not just a few.
We can argue the amount of payments each year, and there should be a discussion between the port director and those boards representing the residents. I think Port Director Rodger Rees is doing a fine job, but he’s a businessman and should understand my position. He needs to lay out the long-term plan for future growth and how much earnings need to be retained for that growth. He also needs to acknowledge the port has been underpaying for decades and needs to start increasing payments based on port income.
Kudos to Mayor Jim Yarbrough for addressing an issue so important to the taxpaying residents of Galveston.