Port agency reports $2.8 million deficit

September 04, 1991|By John H. Gormley Jr.

The Maryland Port Administration posted a $2.8 million deficit for the fiscal year that ended in June, the third deficit in as many years, and faces the prospect of at least one more year of red ink before balancing its budget, port officials said yesterday.

Adrian G. Teel, executive director of the MPA, said yesterday that he expects to announce steps this week that will help reduce the deficit for the current year and bring the budget into balance the following year.

The MPA had been projecting a $5.5 million deficit for the current year, but Mr. Teel said yesterday that the changes he plans will help "bring it down."

The changes to be announced by Mr. Teel, who has been planning a reorganization of the port agency since he took over as director in June, are expected to involve a downsizing of the agency that should help to bring the deficit down.

Maryland Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer said yesterday that breaking even by 1993 is "an absolute imperative" for the port agency.

At the same time the MPA is trying to cut expenses, it is also hoping to increase revenue by bringing more business to the port and driving harder bargains with the steamship lines that pay the MPA for the use of state-owned piers. "Our philosophy has changed. We're not doing the charitable deals anymore," Mr. Lighthizer said.

The state is negotiating long-term leases with at least three major steamship lines. Two of them, Maersk and Atlantic Container Line, are already customers of the port. A third, Orient Overseas Container Line, is considering returning its ships to Baltimore after an absence of several years. All three negotiations may be concluded within the next month, Mr. Lighthizer said.

"We are making progress, no question," Mr. Lighthizer said, crediting Mr. Teel with "getting a handle" on the port agency expenses.

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