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176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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S.C. Ports Budget Calls for Record Volume, $154 Million in Capital Improvements

Charleston, SC – The South Carolina State Ports Authority's (SCSPA) business position has never been stronger, according to next year's budget that was approved today.

The SCSPA board signed off on the fiscal year 2007 financial plan, which predicts record container volume, revenues, earnings and capital improvements.

The plan projects 8.5% growth in container volume in the year that starts July 1. To handle the growing demand for shipping services, the SCSPA estimates capital expenditures will top $150 million over the next two years. In addition to facility improvements and new equipment, included in the plan are funds for port expansion at the former Charleston Navy Base and $1.6 million related to port development on the Savannah River in Jasper County.

All of these funding needs will be handled through internal sources, such as cash, earnings and independent borrowing, and not through tax dollars or public debt. The SCSPA has not received public subsidies for its capital or operating expenses since the late 1970s.

“Our state's public port system has a reputation for standing on its own two feet,” said Bill H. Stern of Columbia, chairman of the board. “The state's taxpayers have all the benefits, without the costs,” he said, referring to the SCSPA's self-supporting philosophy.

An additional 16 jobs will be added, most in operations and maintenance, bringing total employment to 619 people.

The plan also calls for $165 million in operating revenues, up nearly 10% from projections for the current year that ends on June 30. Meanwhile, total operating expense growth will be held to 7.2%, resulting in a 15% growth in operating earnings.

The largest items in the two-year, $154-million capital spending plan are container cranes and lifting equipment, all of which are owned and operated by the SCSPA in the Port of Charleston.

Major capital spending projects over the next two years include: