BOARDMAN - Port of Morrow commissioners have adopted a $25 million budget for 2009-10 that is up 2.6 percent from this year's.

Nearly 60 percent of that budget is for capital outlay.

Gary Neal, the port's general manager, said in his budget message this year the port plans to build a container rail yard, make other railroad improvements and replace a shop building, all with state and federal funds.

The port has budgeted for - and last week accepted - a grant for $1.484 million in federal stimulus funds. It also expects $9.7 million from Connect Oregon II, through the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The port's tax-supported general fund for next year totals $578,761, up 3.8 percent from this year.

Budget documents show the port intends to levy $110,606 in taxes next year to support the general fund. That's up 24 percent from this year.

The port's permanent tax rate is 8.41 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That means the owner of a $100,000 property would pay $8.41 next year to help finance port operations.

Greg Sweek, Morrow County assessor, said Coyote Springs II, the natural gas fired generating plant at the port, ended its five-year tax exemption Jan. 1. As a result, Sweek said the county will bill the owners for the plant's $170 million value this year.

Sweek said adding the plant to the tax rolls will increase the county's $1 billion assessed value by 17 percent.

As the state and national economies continue to soften, Neal said in his budget message, the port's core business appears to be relatively stable with some slight declines in container numbers.

In short, Neal said, he doesn't expect 2009-10 to be a recessionary year for the port.

"We're not seeing any indications of any downsizing or layoffs," he said Tuesday. "We're seeing seeing a very solid performance and anticipating a good, solid performance."

In other business at their recent meeting, port commissioners learned the new 55,000-square-foot transload building is ready for occupancy.

"We're promoting it for warehousing and distribution," Neal said, adding he hopes to have commitments from clients within three months.

The building has bays ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 square feet. It is situated along East Columbia Avenue, next to the port's first transload building, which Cascade Specialties occupies.

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