The City of West Sacramento is quitting the port business and has decided to rent the facility to a private operator after years of deficit operations. The plan will erase the City’s debt to the port’s operator and will provide $650,000 per year in revenue.

The port handles 80 percent of the state’s rice exports but had hoped to broaden its portfolio. But the Great Recession froze the housing boom, and that put a halt on the cement industry’s expansion at the facility. And the deep water channel’s 30-foot draft means that larger ships are unable to navigate the waters. Dredging plans are on a permanent hold.

Now, SSA Pacific, the company that currently operates the facility, will take complete control under a deal proposed by the City. West Sacramento will become the owner and landlord, with SSA serving as the tenant. But the deal removes the debt burden of $850,000 that West Sacramento owed to the company, and will relieve the City of any ongoing deficits. Over the past five years, the Port has lost nearly $6 million.

The initial contract is for five years.

Read the full article at the Sacramento Bee.