Port of Cleveland asks for property tax levy renewal on Nov. 8 ballots in Cuyahoga County | NPR News

The Port of Cleveland on Thursday launched its campaign for a property tax renewal levy that will appear on Cuyahoga County ballots Nov. 8.

The 0.13-mill levy costs homeowners $2.72 for every $100,000 of property valuation, according to the campaign. The port receives about $2.9 million from the levy each year, according to the authority’s most recent state audit.

“Cuyahoga County voters have regularly and generously supported our small property tax that funds our maritime operations and our infrastructure development,” Will Friedman, the president and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, said at a news conference Thursday. “This is what we’re asking the voters to renew in November.”

The port, which stretches along the Lake Erie shoreline from Downtown Cleveland to Edgewater Marina, would use the levy proceeds to fund capital projects, Friedman said.

Voters rejected a levy increase in 2012, but renewed the port’s regular levy in 2013 and 2017. If passed, the levy would come up for renewal again in 2027.

Elected officials like Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish attended Thursday’s campaign kickoff near Whiskey Island at Great Lakes Towing, a tugboat operator.

Shipping traffic and revenues rebounded last year after dipping during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The port reported a 69% increase in tonnage last year, handling 6.9 million metric tons of bulk materials like iron ore and limestone, as well as 649,000 metric tons of cargo such as steel, containers, salt and cement.

The port also plays a major role in real estate development, issuing $4.5 billion in bonds for projects around the county, according to the authority. Port bonds have helped finance the publicly-owned Cleveland Hilton Downtown, the yet-to-be-built Sherwin-Williams headquarters and the Flats East Bank development, for instance.

Levy proceeds don’t underwrite the real estate side of the port’s operation, Friedman said. Other sources of port revenue include docking and storage fees, sediment management fees and income from real estate financing, according to the port’s 2021 audit.

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