Socialize costs, privatize profits, Port business model

The Port of Port Angeles was created by voters in 1918 to be the “job-creating engine’ for the county.  All the most valuable waterfront property was GIVEN to the port by taxpayers.  All the infrastructure owned by the port was paid for by local taxpayers.  Presently the port is a $100,000,000.00 corporation.  Still it cannot turn a profit without continually going back to the taxpayers for ever more funding.

Despite their history of undervaluing leases and boat slips, and other should-be revenue-producing strategies they maintain a business plan benefiting very few businesses and go back to taxpayers instead of setting rents at market rates.

It is reported the port stands to lose $2,000,000.00 from a Department of Commerce grant because they will not charge market prices for their leases.  At least two current or former port employees have jumped ship to work for undervalued lease-holders.

The Port of Port Angeles has perfected their business model of socializing costs, putting them on the backs of taxpayers, and privatizing profits going to the 8 entities contracting for log yard services at the Port of Port Angeles.

All those log moving machines down on the waterfront off Marine Drive, all five million dollars worth of them, all are provided to these 8 businessmen by the taxpayers of Clallam County.

All those employees moving logs around on the waterfront, except for the independent truck drivers, they are taxpayer-paid employees of the Port.

The upcoming five million dollar water treatment plant planned on the waterfront will be paid for by taxpayers.

Why is it needed?

Because all those log trucks coming down on the waterfront spew zinc and copper from their wheel brake dust.  Presently the log trucks bring a batch of logs in and unload on the waterfront where they are stored until a big ship comes in to take the logs to China.  Later, when the ship arrives the log trucks must come in again and move the logs a few hundred yards to the loading pier.  This plan necessitates twice as much truck activity on the water front as is necessary to carry out the business.

This business model doubles the wear and tear on city streets adjacent to the log yard but city taxpayers pay for that too.

Soon the Port Commissioners will roll out their plan to dredge the harbor so bigger ships with deeper hulls can come in and take even more of our children’s resources away to build better lives in China.  Taxpayers will pay for that too.

Let’s keep in mind, none of those logs stacked on the waterfront and at the “International Airport”  create any revenue for the junior taxing districts such as: schools, parks, libraries, hospitals, etc.

All these profits go to 8 businesses while taxpayers cover the costs.

So, lets tally.

Water treatment plant, which would not be needed if logs were stored elsewhere…………………… $5,000.000.00

Dredging the harbor so bigger ships can haul away more of our resources……………………………..$1,000.000.00

Number of people benefiting from Port log yard business plan…………………………………………..8

Number of people paying for port log yard business plan……………………………………………. 79,000 (county residents)

How long can this go on?



  1. Jp

    So you want people to pay higher rent and thats related to job creation how?

    Editor’s note: There is nothing wrong with paying market rate rents when renting taxpayer-owned property. Taxpayers should not be supplementing the rents of for-profit businesses.

  2. anonymous

    Thanks, Dale, for this sharp commentary.

    The port ships about 90 MMBF (million board feet) of raw logs to saw mills in Asia every year. Even more exports include chips and pulp.

    Those exports represent the loss of hundreds of high-paying jobs. It’s impossible to know the exact number of job losses, but using industry metrics it would be about 700-900 jobs for just the raw-log exports.

    Only private industry can export raw logs, which typically fetch prices 25-50 percent higher than domestic mills pay. So the timber trust lands of schools, fire districts, hospitals and local governments are required by law to be less profitable than private timber companies. (Thank you Congress and timber company lobbyists for this heist.)

    Companies like Green Crow shut down their local mills for lack of raw logs, even while exporting massive amounts of logs to China.

    The community has suffered financially as more and more of our forest income and employment is shifted to wealthy owners and foreign nations.

    This madness continues because timber companies control our local government and social institutions, and they use that control to boost their profits at the expense of the community.

    The port doesn’t represent the community; it taxes the community to support timber companies that cause us economic and social harm.


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