The official red ink stain at the port of New Orleans is smaller than anticipated for fiscal 1987: $1.9 million.
At the start of the 1987 fiscal year port officials had predicted a $9.3 million loss. But in June, when port officials were preparing for the July 1 start of fiscal 1988, the estimated loss was set at $2.9 million.Russell W. Honsinger, acting director of finance, gave the Dock Board actual figures at its meeting last week.
Mr. Honsinger said three factors were significant in sopping up some of the red ink. The port's revenues increased about $1.7 million, about $3 million less than anticipated was spent on capital projects and operational expenses were cut by about $2.7 million.
Mr. Honsinger said the major drains on the annual budget are the Rivergate Convention Center, which the Dock Board owns, and bridges over the Industrial Canal.
Last year the Dock Board spent $1.7 million to maintain and operate the Rivergate. Mr. Honsinger said maintaining bridges across the canal also took about $900,000 from the port's coffers last year.
The Dock Board is trying to rid itself of the Rivergate drain by working out an agreement with the city to have the New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority take over its operation. Negotiations, however, have hit a snag and the board has begun to implement its own plan to reduce cost. The move is considered by observers as "a hardball" tactic to get the city to agree to take over operations and financial responsibility for the Rivergate.
Part of the board's plan calls for refusing any new bookings until a new pricing plan can be devised, a move that could hurt New Orleans' tourist industry.
The port also plans to seek help from the state of Louisiana for the bridges.