CHINOOK — During a Jan. 22 special meeting Port of Chinook commissioners unanimously approved an agreement between the port and Pacific County granting two short-term loans from the county to the port.
Pending approval by the county commissioners, the loans are set to be disbursed during the final week of January to allow the port to meet its deadline to pay its debt to Wilcox & Flegel Oil Co.
The agreement is set to go before the county commission during its Jan. 26 meeting, where it is expected to be approved, said Port Manager Guy Glenn Jr.
The loans from the county come in response to the port’s consistently strained finances after port leaders discovered serious gaps in funding last year. Poor records and bookkeeping - issues that a state audit show stretched back several years - have left the port scrambling to right itself since the discovery.
The first loan for $100,000 will primarily be used to pay off the roughly $88,000 the Port of Chinook still owes to Wilcox. The debt comes due at the end of January and without the loan the port could face penalties for failing to pay on time.
As of the Jan. 22 meeting, port commissioners had yet to decide what to do with the remaining roughly $12,000 that would be left from the loan.
The first loan will be due in full by July 31. Previously commissioners had said the loan would be due June 30, but the agreement written by the county listed the later date, which commissioners decided not to question.
The second loan is a $50,000 working line of credit, which the port will be able to use as needed throughout 2016. The full amount of the line of credit must be paid back by Dec. 31, according to the agreement.
“I think if we can get through this year we’ll be on much (more solid) footing next year and won’t have need of (the line of credit). Possibly we won’t have need of it this year, but if we do it’s there,” Kobes said.
Both the loan and line of credit will be subject to a 3 percent annual interest rate, and the port has the option to repay the loans either in lump sums or incrementally, according to the agreement.
During the public comment section of the meeting, one attendee raised the idea of setting a preemptive limit on the amount of time port employees could spend filling public records requests.
The discussion centered on the recent decision by the city of Ilwaco to limit staff time spent filling public records requests to 22 hours a month.
“I think that’s something the commission will need to discuss at some point,” Glenn said.
He added that the Port of Ilwaco is considering a similar measure to limit time allowed to be spent on filling records requests.
Port Commissioner Kathy Colvin, who has been an advocate for a state audit of the port since before she was elected, suggested deferring the creation of a port policy on public records until after the auditor’s office has finished its work.
“I think we need to wait for until this audit goes through and then we need to talk to the auditor, because the records that we have prior to 2015 are practically nonexistent,” Colvin said. “So they need to set up a policy as to how we go if somebody wants something prior to that.”