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Published: 3/23/2013

PORT AUTHORITY

0.4-mill renewal levy likely to be asked

Owner of $100,000 home pays $6.60

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Paul Toth, President and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said the port has had many "major accomplishments" since the levy passed in 2008. Paul Toth, President and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said the port has had many "major accomplishments" since the levy passed in 2008.
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Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority leaders plan to recommend next week that the agency’s board of directors request a five-year renewal of its 0.4-mill levy on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The tax, which now generates about $2.1 million a year for the port authority, would otherwise expire at year’s end.

Renewing it would mean no change in the $6.60 annual tax bill paid by the owner of a home assessed at $100,000. And for the port tax, property values are based on 1994 assessments, because three voter approvals since then have all been for renewals.

During a meeting Thursday with The Blade’s editorial board, port President Paul Toth checked off a list of “major accomplishments” since the last renewal in 2008, leading off with the port authority’s cleanups of the former Gulf Oil refinery site in East Toledo and the former Jeep factory property in central Toledo.

Part of the refinery land is under redevelopment by the port authority as a new ship terminal, while the agency hopes to revive the old Jeep site as an industrial park. Mr. Toth said the port authority has spent about $23 million to clean up pollution, remove old building foundations, and prepare the sites for redevelopment.

Of the more than $12.5 million in levy revenue the port authority has received since 2009, $10.5 million was the local match for $83 million in state and federal grants that have paid for those cleanups and other facility and community projects, the port president said.

“That’s $8 in outside funds for every $1 in local funds,” he said.

The port authority received such grant money, Mr. Toth said, at least in part “because we had a lot of projects ready to go when ‘stimulus’ funding became available” during the economic recession of 2009-10.

The remaining $2,074,000 in levy money has been used to provide grants and loans for small-business and building renovation projects in Toledo through the port authority’s Community Economic Development Initiative.

Mr. Toth also cited, among other port initiatives, the authority’s takeover last year of Toledo’s three municipal parking garages as a case of maintaining a public asset; its $73 million in bond issues for various area projects; its $15 million U.S. Department of Energy grant for energy-efficiency upgrades at 50 buildings so far, and its work with Toledo Jet Center and BX Solutions to start up new firms at Toledo Express Airport after Cessna/Citation and BAX Global left.

The port authority has had less success with preserving commercial passenger service at Toledo Express, where traffic has declined for nine straight years. Mr. Toth blamed that trend on service cutbacks that he attributed primarily to fuel costs, while William Carroll, the port board’s chairman, said the agency will “work as hard as we can to retain what we have” while seeking out new-service candidates and promoting cargo development.

The first of two resolutions needed to put the levy renewal on the ballot will be placed on the board of directors’ monthly meeting agenda next Thursday, Mr. Carroll said, and a levy committee is forming.

“We’re going to have a very aggressive campaign,” said Jerry Chabler, chairman of the port board’s airport committee.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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