Port of Harlingen officials want tax
HARLINGEN — Port of Harlingen officials are seeking to reinstate a tax that lapsed in 1997 to generate funds for maintenance and operations at the facility on the Arroyo Colorado.
Port officials floated the idea of bringing the tax back — the Cameron County Commissioners Court still must approve it — in 2014 and again in 2016, but a port tax that is levied on some county homeowners wasn’t instituted.
Now they’re trying again.
The proposed port tax hike of 3 cents per $100 valuation would be paid by residents living in the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, the Rio Hondo Independent School District and southern Willacy County.
So on a home with a $100,000 valuation, the added tax for people living in those districts would amount to $30 a year. In all, the tax would generate more than $1 million annually for the port.
“Over the years, we’ve averaged about 400,000 tons of waterborne traffic with another probably about 400,000 to 600,000 tons depending on the year of other tonnage coming by way of rail or road,” Port Director Walker Smith told the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. on Tuesday. “As of June 30, we’re already up over a million tons of cargo with the majority of that actually being waterborne cargo.”
The Port of Harlingen is where most of the Rio Grande Valley’s gasoline and diesel supplies arrive, and are distributed via rail or tanker truck up the Valley.
Smith said a significant new amount of traffic at the port is diesel and gas destined for Mexico, which has begun importing fuel to offset declines in production from its aging refinery system.
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