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Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Port agrees to slightly lower tax rate

— Taxpayers are getting another slight break in the amount they pay toward Port Tampa Bay operations.

The Tampa Port Authority voted Tuesday to reduce its tax rate slightly. That means that the owners of a $150,000 house with a $50,000 homestead exemption will pay $16.50 in taxes to the port in 2015, compared to the $17.50 they pay this year.

The board will finalize the tax rate after public hearings in September.

Over the past 20 years, the port has cut its tax rate in half, said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman, who sits on the port board. “That’s a great thing that we are doing, becoming less dependent on taxpayer money.”

Port Tampa Bay has made it a goal to lessen its dependence on property tax receipts and focus on raising more revenue and acquiring more state and federal grants, said Chief Financial Officer Mike Macaluso. And it’s working.

“Over the years, as the port’s financial situation has improved, we have had to rely less” on property taxes, Macaluso said. What the port does receive from property taxes goes only to port infrastructure or projects that directly benefit the public, he said.

Macaluso told the board in May that the port is experiencing higher-than-predicted revenues this year and that lease revenue is up, more money is coming in from the cruise ships and property taxes collections are more robust.

“We’re driving the revenue engine,” Board Member John Grandoff said, and that is important to economic development and job creation.

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