Port of Hueneme, Ventura and Channel Islands Harbors to get maintenance funds returned by Feds

Ensuring adequate dredging and maintenance of our ports and harbors is a critical component of our regional economic success and prospects for job creation,” Congresswoman Brownley said about the Water Resources Reform and Development Act conference agreement (WRRDA, H.R. 3080) just passed in the House. “There are real and specific benefits to Ventura County in this bill, and I’m proud to have been able to work with key local stakeholders to ensure the final bill benefits our community, our economy, and, ultimately, Ventura County’s families.”

·     It increases authorization for the use of funds through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) from 67% in fiscal year 2015 to 100% in fiscal year 2025.  This fund was established in 1986 to fund the operation and maintenance of ports and harbors and is funded by taxes collected locally: the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT).

O    An industry group has been fighting for years to have the monies used for the purpose they were intended. From their website: “RAMP (Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Fairness Coalition) is a coalition of maritime companies formed to seek a legislative fix to the maintenance dredging crisis facing the nations ports and waterways. The crisis is such that our shipping channels are being neglected and continue to offer much less service than they are intended to. Ironically, Federal taxes are being collected to pay for this overdue maintenance dredging yet only half of what is collected is being spent for its intended purpose. http://www.ramphmtf.org/

What passed today includes an amendment to require the Army Corps of Engineers to study and report to Congress within 270 days and biannually afterwards on the regional and local economic development benefits of harbor maintenance activities.

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Port of Hueneme

“Having increased Harbor Maintenance Trust Funds dedicated to maintenance is a critical improvement,” said Channel Islands Harbor Department Director Lyn Krieger. “The uncertainties and budget shortfalls for dredging have put great stress on communities and businesses that depend on their harbors.”

Port of Hueneme CEO Kristin Decas: “It is a day of progress for our nation’s ports and bodes well for the Port of Hueneme.

“Ventura Harbor is pleased that the House passed a Water Resources Development Act,” said Ventura Port District General Manager Oscar Pena. “The Harbor has argued for years that funds collected into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund should be used for the original purpose of the collection, which is harbor operation and maintenance. We applaud the Congress for addressing this fundamental issue, as well as setting aside funds for low use harbors. Without the respective set aside, the Ventura Harbor is extremely vulnerable. ”

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