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Law Gives Port Leeway to Borrow

September 18, 2003|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

Ventura County's small but bustling Port of Hueneme will benefit from a change in law that will allow it to borrow up to $10 million for special projects.

Gov. Gray Davis on Wednesday signed legislation, AB 878, that increases the amount of money the port can borrow from $1 million to $10 million. The law also allows the port 10 years to repay notes, instead of five.

The changes modernize outdated restrictions on the borrowing and investment practices of five harbor districts, supporters said. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), the bill also gives the ports greater leeway to invest funds.

Port of Hueneme Director Bill Buenger said the port needed more flexibility to remain competitive.

The port, which handled 1.1 million tons of cargo in 2002, is one of the most active in the state for the importation of fruit and automobiles. It operates on a $10-million budget.

"This change is big for us," Buenger said. "To go through the bonding market takes months. This way, if you have someone who will take your promissory note if you want to buy, say, a crane, you can react much quicker."

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