Krantz Speaks to Crain’s on Issue 82

October 11, 2013

Marc C. Krantz, KJK managing partner and chairman of the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, recently spoke to Crain’s Cleveland Business concerning Issue 82.

“Few public bodies can say they haven’t sought a tax increase from voters in their entire existence yet still have done their jobs and done them well. An exception is the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, which has gone 45 years without a tax hike and is asking voters this Nov. 5 to approve a five-year renewal of its soon-to-expire levy.

Voters should say “yes” to Issue 82, a tax that is a bargain relative to the economic benefits the Port Authority provides the region.

The 0.13-mill levy is miniscule in terms of its effect on the tax bills of Cuyahoga County residents. It costs the owner of a $200,000 house about $7 for the entire year.

However, the $3.2 million the tax yields when those small amounts of money are pooled together accounts for 35% of the Port Authority’s annual budget and produces a big impact for the region.

The port is a key part of the success of the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Cleveland. The plant is the giant steelmaker’s most efficient operation in the world, and relies on iron ore shipments delivered through the Port of Cleveland for the raw material it uses to make the metal its customers demand.

The port also serves as the entry point for high-grade, flat-rolled steel that is produced by mills in Europe and is transformed into products by America’s auto and appliance makers.

Marc Krantz, managing partner of the Kohrman, Jackson & Krantz law firm and chairman of the Port Authority board, provides a great visual image of the port’s role as a vital link in the region’s transportation network. Mr. Krantz told Crain’s editorial board it would take 4,700 miles of semi-trailers aligned end to end to handle the volume of cargo that moved through the Port of Cleveland last year. That’s a line that would extend more than one-and-half times across the United States from coast to coast.

But, the Port Authority plays a valuable economic role beyond its maritime operations through its development finance activities.

Under Ohio law, port authorities can serve as financing intermediaries by selling bonds on behalf of companies, local governments and nonprofits that are undertaking construction and redevelopment projects. Over the last 20 years, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority has helped finance projects that have resulted in nearly $2 billion of private investment in Northeast Ohio.

The Port Authority also covers the local share of the cost of dredging the Cuyahoga River in order to keep the channel a navigable waterway for freighters and to control flooding in the Flats. It isn’t a glamorous activity, but it’s an important one to ArcelorMittal and the producers of cement, limestone, petroleum products and salt that rely on the vessels that ply those waters to deliver their goods.

The November ballot in Cuyahoga County is more crowded than usual with levy issues. The port’s levy, Issue 82, fits the no-brainer category. It isn’t an increase, its cost is small and its benefits are big. We give it a big thumbs up.”