Port Tampa Bay has taken in higher-than-predicted revenues in the first seven months of the year, with lease revenue up, more money coming in from cruise ships and more people paying their property taxes, Chief Financial Officer Mike Macaluso told the Tampa Port Authority Board on Tuesday.
“We’re having a very good fiscal year,” Macaluso told the board.
“Our lease revenues are a bit higher than expected,” he said after the meeting. “If our lease-holders do well, we do well.” The port, the largest deep-water port in Florida, has taken in about $362,000 over budget projections, Macaluso said.
The port also has spent less than expected on operating expenses by leaving some vacant positions open and deferring non-essential expenses, Macaluso said.
The port’s net income so far this year, excluding state and federal grants, is $22 million, or about $2 million higher than expected.
Port Tampa Bay actually reduced its millage rate this year, but ad valorem tax receipts are higher than expected, which brought more money in, the CFO said. “We actually had a true reduction in taxes when we dropped our millage from 0.185 to 0.175,” this year, but with more people paying their taxes, the port came out ahead.
The millage rate is the rate at which property taxes are levied. A mill is 1/1000 of a dollar. Property taxes are computed by multiplying the taxable value of the property by the number of mills levied. So, someone that owns a house valued at $150,000 would pay $26.25 in taxes to the Port Authority this year, compared to $27.75 in 2013. The tax bill goes up as property value increases.
The port also instituted a user fee this year for businesses using its petroleum terminal, which is undergoing renovations. “It’s the busiest berth in the port,” Macaluso said. As part of the upgrades, the Port Authority added an elaborate piping system to carry petroleum products from a ship to various leaseholders at the port.
“The piping system is more efficient for users and it is those users that are reimbursing us” for constructing it, Macaluso said.
The Port Authority board also approved a plan Tuesday to authorize a bank loan to refund a set of revenue bonds from 2005. The refunding is expected to save the port some $500,000 annually.
Port Public Relations Director Andrew Fobes said in an email that the 2005A Bonds were issued to refund, or refinance bonds issued in 1995. He said the 2005A Bonds were originally issued in the amount of $56.4 million.