Proposed moorage rate increases at the Oak Harbor Marina may impact large boats the most. (Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times)

Proposed moorage rate increases at the Oak Harbor Marina may impact large boats the most. (Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times)

Oak Harbor council to look at proposed fee hikes for marina

The harbormaster of the Oak Harbor marina has floated a proposal to raise moorage fees.

During an Oak Harbor City Council workshop last week, Chris Sublet gave the council members a presentation on a rate increase recommended by the Marina Advisory Committee.

For most boat owners, it could mean a 3 percent rate hike each year until 2022.

The council is scheduled to formally consider the increases during its March 19 meeting.

Oak Harbor Marina is one of only two in the state owned by cities. It’s run as an enterprise fund, which means it is self-supporting and doesn’t receive tax dollars.

The marina is funded by fees charged for moorage, sheds, fuel and storage.

Sublet explained that the committee members looked at fees that other marinas in the area are charging for different services.

Moorage rates are based on the size of the boat and whether or not the moorage is covered.

He said the committee members proposed setting moorage rates and other fees at Oak Harbor Marina at 80 percent of the average rates and fees charged at other marinas in the area.

He pointed out that other marinas have advantages, such as being closer to stores and other conveniences. Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes is a block away from Safeway, for example, and the marina in La Conner is downtown.

Boaters who arrive at the Oak Harbor Marina have a longer walk to get to stores.

“Their value may be a little bit more,” Sublet said.

Ken Hulett, chairman of the marina advisory committee, said that the marina is located right up against the fence around the Navy base.

“We really have limitations as far as what we can do down there,” he said.

In surveying the competition, Sublet said, he found that most rates are at least 80 percent of the average.

The biggest discrepancy was in the 50-70 foot moorage category, where the rates were well below the 80-percent mark.

The proposed 3 percent increase each year from 2019-22 would apply to moorage, sheds, storage and services rates.

The marina committee recommends that the increase in moorage rates for boats that are 50 to 70 feet should be split over two years, so that the rates will be at 80 percent of the average in 2020; that’s in addition to the 3 percent increase for all moorage.

The proposed monthly rate for a 60-foot boat would go from $488.96 to $517.06, according to Sublet.

The harbormaster said the proposal would also set a fee for the boat launch; the proposal is $10 for recreational boats and $15 for commercial boats.

Sublet said he would evaluate whether charging the fee makes financial sense after a year.

The rules for handling cash boxes are strict and dealing with them is costly for government entities, so he wanted to try it out before investing in something like an electronic kiosk.

While the marina staff is constantly doing maintenance and improvements, the facility doesn’t have funds available for major projects; the fee increase won’t help much.

“This budget does very little in terms of accumulating money for major capital improvements,” Hulett said.

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