Ports in Oregon serve a unique function as government agencies that also focus on profit-making enterprises. Like other local governments, ports are authorized to levy taxes, borrow money, issue bonds, and charge for services. A very small portion of most ports’ revenues is derived from taxes. With a tax rate of just over three cents per $1,000 of assessed value, the Port of Hood River receives less than $40,000 in tax monies each year. Tax receipts account for slightly more than 1% of the Port’s $3 million annual operating budget.
Because of the specialized role assigned them by state statute, Oregon ports also operate much like businesses-negotiating economic development projects, leasing land, buildings and equipment, and promoting their facilities and districts for potential economic growth and opportunities. The primary role of Oregon’s smaller ports is to encourage economic activities within the district’s boundaries. Oregon law allows ports to engage in such activities as the improvement of bays, rivers and harbors; construction and operation of warehouses and other facilities; operating of airports and interstate bridges; construction and operation of public marine facilities; and development of industrial parks. Over the years, the Port of Hood River has been involved in all of these activities.
Ports also work closely with the Ports Division of the Oregon Economic Development Department to increase funding for the Port Revolving Fund. This fund provides capital for development of public facilities such as sewer and water as well as providing job development assistance to existing or new industries located in port districts. Several businesses in the Hood River area have benefited from the Port Revolving Fund.
The mission of the Port of Hood River, which was formed in 1933 as a result of the Bonneville Dam Project, has remained constant over the past years: to initiate, promote and maintain quality of life and a healthy economy throughout the Port District and the Columbia River Gorge. The Port of Hood River owns and operates the Hood River/White Salmon Bridge, the Ken Jernstedt Airfield, John Weber Business Park in Odell, the Hood River Marina, much of the waterfront area parks and open spaces, and a portfolio of over 50 leased properties within the Port District. As it had done with the former Diamond Cannery Complex in downtown Hood River, the Port purchased and renovated for lease or sale to various small businesses the former Lower Hanel Mill property in Odell. With the clean-up and develepmont-ready presparations complete, new building construction is ready on a former brownfield site.
In order to continue their efforts to expand the state’s economy, ports look to their local communities for ideas and support on ways they can best serve their area. The Port of Hood River continues to welcome your ideas and suggestions