Neighbors will benefit from fiber-optic upgrade, Lewiston Tribune, May 11, 2017

Port of Lewiston budgets $375,000 for expanding network

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune

More areas within Nez Perce County will be served by upgraded telecommunications in the coming year as the Port of Lewiston continues to expand its fiber-optic network.

The port plans to invest $375,000 on the network in the fiscal year that starts July 1, according to a preliminary budget reviewed by port commissioners at a Wednesday meeting.

The new capacity will be along Bryden Avenue, in downtown Lewiston and at a medical professional park near the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport.

The network already reaches many of the city’s largest employers, such as Vista Outdoor, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Lewis-Clark State College, which also is a customer.

The budgeted money is in addition to $1.25 million the port already has deployed on the project. The network wholesales capacity at a set rate to large-scale customers and telecommunications providers like First Step Internet in Moscow. It anticipates revenue of $35,000 for the 12 months ending June 30 and has projected about the same amount of revenue for the next fiscal year.

The additions to the network are the biggest expense in the proposed $1.54 million 2018 fiscal year budget – behind salaries and benefits for the port’s three full-time and two part-time employees, which equal almost $400,000.

Four employees would receive a 3 percent raise in the preliminary budget, bringing the annual salary of the port’s highest-paid employee, Manager David Doeringsfeld, to $105,500.

Assistant Port Manager Jaynie Bentz would receive an 8.3 percent increase, to $65,000 per year. The larger boost reflects new responsibilities Bentz has assumed for the fiber-optic network.

Overall expenditures are expected to be $1.17 million less than the present fiscal year, mostly because the port will be scaling back on land acquisition and development.

This year, the port put $800,000 into its fiber-optic network, about twice as much as it expects to use next year. The port also is close to finishing a project at its Harry Wall Industrial Park at the base of the Lewiston Hill to level 15 acres and extend water and sewer lines. That was projected at $800,000 for this year, compared with $50,000 for the next fiscal year.

On the revenue side, the port anticipates $465,363 from rentals, $460,100 from warehousing operations, $405,00 in property tax revenue from Nez Perce County and $90,000 from marine dock operations.

The property tax amount is the same as last year and equals about $13 per year for a home with an assessed value of $200,000, Doeringsfeld said. The $90,000 is largely from a new operation Clearwater Paper installed at the port to unload sawdust.

A hearing on the budget is set for noon, June 14 at the port office at 1626 Sixth Ave. N.

In other business, port commissioners :

  • Discussed two homeless camps tucked away in ravines north of the LC Ice Arena. The port has informed the Lewiston Police Department about the camps and expects they will be dismantled. They have makeshift shelters that house perhaps less than 10 people. The port first learned of the camps five weeks ago, but it’s likely they have been there longer.
  • Heard a report that the port made about $65,000 selling rock for the construction of Advanced Health Care, a short-term nursing facility near SEL that may open as early as December. The material had been stored on property adjacent to the new Advanced Health Care location where at one time Regence planned to construct a complex. When the insurance provider shifted its plans and built at its existing Lewiston campus in 2005, it donated the rock to the port. The company doing the construction for Advanced Health Care used all of the donated rock.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.