The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Port 2 relinquishes island, looks at 2020 budget


September 24, 2020

Commissioners of Port District No. 2 relinquished ownership of Coffee Pot Island and took a look at a proposed budget for 2021 when they met Sept. 14.

Coffee Pot Island lies in the Columbia between the Port's Svensen Park in Puget Island and the Georgia Pacific paper mill in Oregon.

In 2016, Coffeepot Island Holdings, LLC (CPI), a limited liability corporation involving Puget Island residents Doug and Jill Martin, gifted the island to the port district for use as a recreational area.

Both the port district and CPI intended that CPI would receive a federal tax deduction in the amount of the value of the property, but the claim was denied by the Internal Revenue Service.

Port Commissioners Brian O'Connor, Lee Tischer and Austin Burkhalter adopted a resolution drafted by port attorney Tim Hanigan which stated, "under Washington common law, a party may rescind an agreement on the ground of mutual mistake if (1) both parties were mistaken about a basic assumption regarding existing facts, and (2) the mistake changed the bargain sufficiently that the party seeking to rescind would not have entered into the agreement."

Further, the resolution stated that as both parties assumed and intended there be the tax deduction benefit to CPI, "there is a significant possibility of a successful claim for recision."

And so to avoid the time and expense of litigating the matter, the commission "determined that voluntary rescission of the agreement and return of the property to CPI is an appropriate action."

The resolution was effective Sept. 15.

Manager Jeff Smith presented a proposed budget for 2021; the commission will hold a public hearing on the budget and vote to adopt it at the Oct. 20 meeting.

Smith said the covid-19 pandemic had impacted revenues and expenses at Skamokawa Vista Park, the port's key operation.

Based on that, he said he had predicted total 2021 revenue would be $448,781, down $28,800, and total expenditures, also $448,781, would be $15,400 higher.

Employment expense would contribute to the increase in expenditures, Smith said, for the minimum wage will increase in 2021, and the port has started paying health benefits.

"With decreases in several areas, we were able to add $43,600 in health insurance for staff, with minimal overall increase in expenses," Smith reported.

The proposed budget lists $38,500 in capital improvements, but Smith said many more projects are needed.

Proposed capital improvement projects and estimated costs include:

• Upgrading the irrigation at Vista Park, $55,000;

• Installing cabins at the park, $42,000;

• Upgrading park restrooms--painting walls, sealing and surfacing floors and exterior walls, and replacing a sewer system pump, $20,000;

• Landscaping additions, $15,000, and

• Supplying the grant match for installation of the Vista Park Nature Trail foot bridge, $18,000.

A major project isn't listed in the capital projects report, Smith said: One of the two drainfields at Vista Park is full, and the port needs to install a new drainfield, Smith said.

Depending on how the new drainfield is designed and permitted, the project could be simple, or it could be complicated, he said, with a possible cost around $100,000.


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