Oak Harbor Marina increases due in 3 phases

After an uproar from the marina advisory committee and marina customers, Oak Harbor city staff members revised their initial proposal of an 11-percent increase in 2010 to an incremental, 5-percent uptick in fees each year over the next three years.

Current rates cover minor maintenance and operating expenses at the marina; however, they’re inadequate in terms of building a reserve fund, said Steve Powers, development services director.

“Although the rates have been somewhat static over time, operational and maintenance costs have obviously increased,” he said.

The marina aims to add $300,000 to the reserve fund each year.

An 11-percent increase would generate enough funds in one year to fit the bill; however the proposal was highly unpopular. The revised proposal, a 5-percent fee increase each year over the next three years will also produce an annual reserve fund contribution of $300,000 by the end of 2012.

While the revised increase appeared to satisfy most parties, there are still a few disgruntled customers.

“I think some of the drive to get this money is a little too aggressive,” said Steve Schultz, who docks his 40-foot boat at the marina.

Recently the marina remeasured the boats, from bow to stern, and imposed an increase based on length, he said, adding that his 40-footer has not “grown” to 45.8 feet.

“This is a silly game,” he said. “All I have to do is remove my anchor and it shrinks two feet.”

Bob Nelson, who was recently appointed to the marina advisory committee for a three-year term, supports the marina’s objective to build a reserve fund, but he thinks there are more creative ways to do it.

“We need to find other ways of increasing revenue and decreasing expenditures,” he told the council members.

The marina does not charge for use of the boat ramp and guest moorage rates are significantly below the regional level. Those resources are potential revenue sources, and they’re something Powers said he’ll look into and report back on in “90 to 120 days.”

Marina redevelopment projects shouldn’t get put off for too long, said Councilman Rick Almberg.

“If we don’t preserve it, it could deteriorate to where we have an environmental clean up on our hands,” he said before making a motion to approve an ordinance adopting the 5-percent, phased-in rate increase between 2010 and 2012. Councilman Eric Gerber seconded the motion, which passed unanimously. Council members Beth Munns and Bob Severns recused themselves from the discussion and vote due to a conflict of interest.

The fee increase applies to permanent and guest moorage, storage sheds, trailer storage, electricity, environmental compliance and launch/hoist fees.

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