Port Tampa Bay sets record with $55.4 million in operating revenue in 2017

The increase for the 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, was driven by growth in cruise ship business, where the number of cruises sailing out of Port Tampa Bay rose 26 percent. But numbers also were up in other areas.

Passengers wait to catch rides outside Cruise Terminal 3 after disembarking from The Carnival Paradise at Port Tampa Bay earlier this year. Growth in cruise ship business, expanded leases and shipping of commodities like petroleum, cement, phosphate and steel helped generate a record $55.4 million in operating revenues for the port during the 2017 fiscal year. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times]
Passengers wait to catch rides outside Cruise Terminal 3 after disembarking from The Carnival Paradise at Port Tampa Bay earlier this year. Growth in cruise ship business, expanded leases and shipping of commodities like petroleum, cement, phosphate and steel helped generate a record $55.4 million in operating revenues for the port during the 2017 fiscal year. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
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TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay posted its biggest operating revenues ever this year — $55.4 million — beating its previous record from two years ago.

The total reflects revenue solely generated by port operations, not property tax revenue or grants, officials said.

The increase for the 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, was driven by growth in cruise ship business, where the number of cruises sailing out of Port Tampa Bay rose 26 percent, but also in other areas.

"Basically in pretty much all of our lines of business, we've seen increases in revenue in 2017," port chief financial officer Mike Macaluso said Monday.

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In 2017, the port handled nearly 15 million tons of commodities like petroleum, cement, phosphate, steel and aggregate materials such as limestone — a 6 percent increase over 2016. And the port signed new or expanded leases, including one for the Port Logistics cold storage facility scheduled to open later this month.

The port teamed up with Tampa real estate developer Richard Corbett to finance the construction of the 130,000-square-foot facility. Port Logistics of Orlando has a 27-year lease to manage the facility, which will receive, label, package and distribute refrigerated foods. Officials hope the new on-dock facility will bring in new business by offering a port three days closer to shippers than Philadelphia, which has the most cold storage food facilities on the East Coast.

Operating revenues rose 12.6 percent from last year's $49.2 million. The old record was $51.3 million in 2015.

"I am thrilled that the port is shattering revenue records," Port Tampa Bay board chairman Steve Swindal said in a statement released with the 2017 numbers.

Swindal credited port president Paul Anderson and his team for overall operating revenue increases of nearly 27 percent since Anderson became the port's CEO in 2013.

Meanwhile, the port has lowered its property tax rate by more than 31 percent. That reduction reflects a goal to grow self-generated operating revenues enough that the port eventually levies a property tax rate of zero and uses no county taxpayer money at all.

In August, the port said it was using about $11 million in taxpayer money exclusively for infrastructure projects. The port's current property tax rate means the owner of a home assessed at $200,000 will pay less than $20 in port-related taxes in 2018. Officials project the port is on a pace to be off Hillsborough County's tax rolls within a decade.

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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