In a written testimony, submitted recently to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resource and Environment hearing on the “Cost of Doing Nothing,” the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) called on Congress to invest in critical landside and waterside connections to seaports, fully utilize HMT revenues and implement a long-term funding solution for port maintenance.
“Landside and waterside investments are critical to building America’s 21st century seaport infrastructure. AAPA has highlighted $66 billion in federal need over the next decade for port-related infrastructure. About half of that need, $33.8 billion, is for waterside investments,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA’s president & CEO.
“On the waterside, there are existing funding opportunities to address our needs at seaports. The Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) is paid by shippers to ensure our nation’s ports are well maintained.”
According to Port of Los Angeles Executive Director, Eugene Seroka, who testified at the April 10 Subcommittee hearing, “The HMT is a unique and important revenue source that can keep our nation’s ports and harbors operating at their maximum potential.”
Ports requiring traditional dredging as well as donor ports (where a large proportion of the HMT revenues are collected) require the use of HMT funds. Approving a long-term funding solution for port maintenance that makes full use of the HMT more permanent and includes language to address tax fairness and cargo diversion problems is critical, said AAPA in its release.
The four pillars of this solution are:
Full use of future HMT revenues;
A funds distribution framework that makes permanent and expands donor and energy transfer port funding, as well as expands the allowable in-water use of these funds;
Minimum regional funding assurances based on historic funding; and
Emerging harbors funding that updates the provisions in WRRDA 2014 and WIIN 2016 to guarantee no less than 10% to these harbors.