During its annual budget workshop today, Tampa Port authority staff presented a comprehensive view of its proposed fiscal year 2010 annual budget, which promises to be strong from a revenue standpoint, despite the current economy. Operating Income for FY2010, in fact, should exceed the 2009 figure because of cost-saving measures and a no-nonsense business approach with regard to investments into port infrastructure.

Notably, port authority officials expect to equal the 2009 revenue benchmark without raising port-related fees, incurring no new debt, and while again reducing the port authority’s ad valorem millage rate. The port authority has reduced its millage rate below the legislatively-defined “rolled back” rate for the last four fiscal years, saving Hillsborough County property owners real dollars.

Despite the global, national and regional economic conditions, the port authority has weathered the decline reasonably well, Richard Wainio, port director and CEO, said during the workshop. Wainio also said that, if the economy recovers more rapidly than anticipated by economists, port authority revenue projections could exceed those from 2009.

As part of an ongoing, aggressive capital improvements program, the FY 2010 budget includes just over $63 million in new capital investments, largely construction projects that include the rehabilitation of the critical REK petroleum complex and infrastructure at Port Redwing. Moreover, millions of dollars for projects started in FY 2009 and continuing into 2010 will be spent, including completion of a new parking garage expansion across from Channelside Bay Plaza and continued construction of the port’s container terminal.

“In the face of very tough economic circumstances, the Port of Tampa is a bright spot in the state of Florida. Our budget for 2010 is the product of a lot of hard work by our staff and board, but also a reflection of a tireless port community that pushes for growth and helps to create a port that is strong, vibrant and increasingly diversified,” Wainio said.