Increased harbor usage fees sail through city council

Mooring and docking fees most substantial increases
By Ben Holbrook | Jan 09, 2013
Photo by: Ben Holbrook Harbormaster Katherine Pickering and Harbor Committee Chairman Mike Rauch explain to councilors the proposed increases to fees for using harbor resources.

Belfast — At their first meeting of the year on Jan. 2 City Councilors approved the 2013 harbor usage fees, which call for increases in annual mooring/moored float permits, mooring rentals and docking charges.

The Harbor Committee submitted recommendations for adjusting harbor usage fees based on past harbor revenues, budget appropriations, the length of time since fees have increased, various options in charging certain fees, looking at the number of vessels moored by size, increases other harbors or marine businesses have made, projects which may increase the budget in the near future and the overall uses and goals of the city’s public facilities.

In a memo to councilors, Harbormaster Katherine Pickering noted the largest source of revenue to the city comes from the City Landing slip rental, Thompson’s Wharf slip rental, mooring permits and mooring rentals.

When considering charging by the boat foot for mooring permits, the largest percentage of vessels moored are under 40 feet.

Of those four sources, only the Thompson’s Wharf slip rental fee is not being increased as there is some uncertainty what will happen with the facility as Front Street Shipyard looks at possible expansion options.

The mooring fees adjustment calls for a higher fee for Army Corps of Engineers permitted moorings, which Harbor Committee Chairman Mike Rauch explained was due to the fact the permitted moorings are used for commercial work, which generates an income and warrants charging a higher fee.

Rauch said the annual permit fee for recreational moorings remains at $60.

There are 55 Army Corps of Engineers permitted moorings/floats in the harbor.

In the memo to councilors, Pickering also noted there would be required budget increases at some point in the near future to address float replacement –– some city floats are 15 years old –– a fuel system, as well as general maintenance and upgrades.

Councilor Roger Lee questioned why the harbor committee recommended doubling the fee for mooring relocation requests. Pickering said the city is required by state law to designate between a relocation list and a waiting list. She explained the relocation list only applies to moorings that are already owned, while the waiting list is for new mooring applicants.

The proposed fee increases were approved unanimously by councilors.

In other business:

Councilors approved a renewal Pawn Shop license for the Belfast Army Navy store.

Jason Couture was appointed as a reserve officer with the Belfast Police Department.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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