Organization, Powers & Maps
The Ocean Highway and Port Authority is governed by five elected commissioners representing the five voting districts of Nassau County. They serve staggered four year terms.
The Port Authority was originally chartered in 1941 as a body politic and corporate and a subdivision of the State of Florida having a corporate title of Fernandina Port Authority. The name was changed in 1961 to Ocean Highway and Port Authority. As the Port’s governing body, the Port Authority has policy-making, budgeting and general oversight responsibilities for all port activities. The Port Authority employs Nassau Marine Terminal, a private port operator company, to manage, market, and administer the port under the terms of an Operating Agreement dated October 19, 2018.
The Port Authority does not have authority to tax and does not pay taxes. Why is this? The OHPA was created by a government entity (Florida Legislature) to serve the citizens of Florida as a "Special District" of the government. Special Districts are not for profit, and therefore cannot generate a taxable profit. In essence, the state government would be taxing itself if Special Districts like the OHPA paid taxes.
The OHPA Charter allows the port to engage in projects in Nassau, Duval & Baker counties.
The Port Authority is also exempt from taxation by the State of Florida, or by any county, municipality or political subdivision on those properties it owns. The Port Authority must rely on the financial viability of each project to pay for the cost of its operations. The Port Authority may acquire property or property interests through negotiation or condemnation; set tariffs; enter into secure agreements with governmental entities; incur indebtedness; plan, develop or lease its properties; and regulate land use and buildings on Port lands. The Port Authority has powers similar to those of a unit of local government and is accountable to the electorate residing in Nassau County.
The Port Authority serves the principal public purpose to encourage economic development in Nassau County. One way it has fulfilled this responsibility has been by renovating the deepwater port facilities to meet the maritime shipping needs of this growing region. In so doing, the Port Authority gives appropriate consideration to the impacts upon and relationships with surrounding communities, the economic goals of the State and region and the regulatory requirements of numerous governmental agencies.
The fiscal year runs from October 1 - September 30.