Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JPA Says Port Split Won't Cost as Much New Study Puts Price Tag at $975,000

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JPA Says Port Split Won't Cost as Much New Study Puts Price Tag at $975,000

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Calnan, Times-Union business writer

Restructuring the Jacksonville Port Authority into two separate operations will cost $975,000 -- less than a fourth of the figure projected a year ago by an accounting firm, port officials said yesterday.

JPA Chairman Marty Fiorentino said the estimate difference is due to the methods used by the two studies concerning the split. The first study didn't include savings that would occur after the restructuring, and it used a model instead of getting actual figures from JPA managers, he said.

"That was just an over-inflated estimate," Fiorentino said.

Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers studied the port split and estimated a one-time transition cost of $4 million a year ago.

The new study was done by consulting firm Arthur Andersen and estimated an additional annual cost of $535,000 for about three years. The earlier study projected the annual cost to be $2.3 million for 10 years after the transition.

The total estimated cost was $26 million over 10 years. Fiorentino said the study didn't factor in the savings from eliminating the JPA president position. But the restructured authority will include eight additional positions.

All the major issues involving the restructuring have been or are in the process of being resolved in time for the split to take place in October, Fiorentino said.

Port officials are scheduled to make a formal presentation to the City Council tonight. Yesterday, they gave Council President Alberta Hipps and other council members informal updates on the restructuring process.

Hipps was pleased with what she heard from the JPA.

"It's positive," she said. "I believe they've been very diligent in their steps to make a smooth transition."

The state Legislature approved the split last week. The JPA board and council supported it, saying it would create better-managed agencies. But state approval was needed because the Legislature created the port authority in 1963. …

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