Oak Harbor offers deals in effort to fill marina
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
May 22, 2012 · Updated 2:36 PM
A committee has proposed a plan that’s aimed at helping Oak Harbor’s struggling marina by offering special deals to encourage long-term moorage.
The Oak Harbor City Council passed a resolution last week to offer special contract pricing and to lower the price of fuel.
Cac Kamak, senior planner and staff representative on the marina advisory committee, made it clear May 15 that something has to be done to bring more customers to the city-owned marina. Like many marinas in the state, moorage rates in Oak Harbor sank when the economy floundered. The occupancy rate went from 80 percent in 2009 to the current 56 percent.
“Generally there have been less boats in the water,” he said, adding that “boats are being shuffled around to various marinas.”
The marina is run as a self-sustaining enterprise fund, which means it doesn’t receive taxpayer money. The bulk of the marina’s $1.2 million in revenues comes from fees charged for moorage.
Kamak said the committee members looked at ways to encourage more boaters to use the marina, especially for long-term moorage. They decided to offer moorage discounts to current or new customers who enter into long-term contracts.
Chris Sublet, the interim marina manager, said those with boats over 26 feet will receive 12 months of moorage for the price of 11 months. For a 40-foot boat, that’s a $234 savings.
Boats smaller than 26 feet will be eligible for a flat rate of $55 a month. Boats in winter moorage at F dock will get seven months for the price of six.
In addition, the marina is abandoning a complex fuel pricing formula for a flat-rate markup, which will mean lower fuel costs for customers. The committee hoped the lower price would encourage more overnight moorage.
Kamak conceded that the discounts could backfire and cost the marina, which is projected to have a budget deficit this year of $150,000. In the “worst case scenario,” he said, revenues would drop by more than $23,000 this year and nearly $49,000 next year if all the current customers take the deals and no new customers arrive.
Kamak said the committee members don’t anticipate that will happen.
“We think it’s a good program,” he said. “We think it will be successful.”
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.