Port questioned about SEL land deal

Port of Lewiston passes $2.68M budget

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune | Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Questions surfaced about the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories land deal Tuesday as the Port of Lewiston passed a $2.68 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Doug Black of Lewiston wondered about how the sale price of the land compared with the port’s investment in the property.

SEL paid $831,451 for 25 acres in the port’s Business and Technology Park near the Village Centre Cinemas. That price equaled about 75 cents per square foot, 20 cents less per square foot than the port had into it, said David Doeringsfeld, manager of the Port of Lewiston.

DeAnn Scrabeck of Lewiston asked what the port’s policy was on the sale versus lease of land. Each proposal is examined on a case-by-case basis with job creation being a key consideration, Doeringsfeld said.

A business that would create three jobs with the purchase of 25 acres would be viewed differently that one such as SEL that forecasts 250 jobs in three years, Doeringsfeld said.

Black and Scrabeck were among nine people in attendance for a hearing the port conducted before finalizing the budget.

Others quizzed Doeringsfeld and the port commissioners about issues such as the port’s reimbursement policy and the possibility of expanding business incubator space.

The port doesn’t have a set limit it would pay for a meal a staff member purchased while doing port business, Doeringsfeld said.

Its employees turn in receipts and are reimbursed, Doeringsfeld said. “It’s reasonable in that it has to be for promotion of the port.”

The port’s 32,000 square feet of incubator space is full with five tenants and the upcoming budget has no money earmarked to add room, Doeringsfeld said.

The port gives start-up businesses a break on their leases in the incubator initially and they build up to full market value in three years, Doeringsfeld said. “There has always seemed to be a very strong demand.”

Along with passing the budget, the commissioners approved a $450,000 property tax levy.

The rate per thousand of assessed value this year is 16 cents per thousand which equates to a little less than $16 for a homeowner with a home valued at $190,000, Doeringsfeld said.

The money from the levy goes for development of infrastructure, not day-to-day port operations.

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