The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority’s Board of Directors voted unanimously today to place a levy renewal on the November countywide ballot.
“The Port plays a unique and essential role in our region,” said Port Chair Marc Krantz “We are the only local government agency whose sole responsibility is to spur job creation and economic vitality in Cuyahoga County. The Port Authority operates the international docks that connect our region to the global economy, provides innovative financing solutions that have helped build development projects across Northeast Ohio, and serves as an environmental steward of two key assets: the Cuyahoga River ship channel and the downtown Lake Erie shoreline.”
Proceeds from the renewal of the Port Authority’s levy will be used to sustain and advance strategic initiatives that are essential to protecting and growing the nearly 18,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in annual economic activity that depend on Cleveland Harbor.
Renewing the Port Authority levy will not increase taxes; the tax rate would remain at 0.13 mills, which is the same rate that was set in 1968 when the Port Authority was created and is the smallest countywide tax levy in Cuyahoga County.
Under the renewed levy, property owners will continue to pay only about $0.29 per month for every $100,000 of assessed value, which will yield approximately $3.1 million annually – roughly 35% of the Port Authority’s annual budget.
The Port Authority’s current levy was passed in 2007 and provided for tax collections through the end of this year. To avoid a disruption in collections, the Port Authority renewal levy would need to be approved by voters in November.
During today’s meeting, the Board also positioned the Port Authority to make available as much as $300 million in bonds for Phase 2 of the Innerbelt Bridge Reconstruction Project in Cleveland in order to help accelerate construction and save taxpayers money on financing costs. The Board acted now so that contractor teams bidding to build Phase 2, which includes construction of the new eastbound bridge, have the option of including the Port bonds as a financing mechanism in their proposals. The Ohio Department of Transportation plans to select a contractor team in September. Should the selected team use the Port’s financing program, the Port’s bonds would be sold to private investors and repaid with ODOT funds.
In other actions today, the Port Authority Board also agreed to:
•Authorize the sale of up to $35 million in bonds, primarily to refinance existing debt of Constellation Schools LLC, which operates community schools throughout Northeast Ohio.
•Authorize a contract for up to $986,753 with Turner Construction Company for construction and renovation work at the Port Authority’s new headquarters at 1100 E. 9th Street. The Port plans to move into the space in September.