MARATHON -- The city of Marathon appears to be on the verge of a compromise with the residents and visitors of Boot Key Harbor regarding the recent rate hikes at the city marina.
The amended fees that staff will propose to the Marathon City Council were arrived at after a public hearing at the city marina and a subsequent meeting last week with five volunteer members of the boating community at city hall.
The city proposes to strike the 32-foot minimum per-foot charge on all boats docked on the city marina wall, charge seasonal rates for permanent residents on a city mooring ball and offer discount coupon books for daily dockage.
In dropping the minimum qualifier and instead charging per-foot rates, the marina will reflect industry standards. The seasonal rates for mooring balls -- a $15 discount during low-season months -- will complement the seasonal rates for slip spaces at the marina. Finally, the daily dockage rate changes will address the biggest outcry from the liveaboard community.
"After studying the finances at the city marina, we think we can offer a discount coupon book that would reduce the daily dockage fees to $18 per day by putting together a coupon book of five [days] for $90," said City Manager Roger Hernstadt. That's a $4 discount off the previously proposed daily rate of $22. The coupon books will be non-transferable and non-refundable and must be used within 30 days.
Marathon resident Mary Belden said that's still too high. Speaking at the Near Shore Waters committee meeting, she compared it to a nearby private marina's dinghy rate of $7.50 per day.
"I think the city is going to be losing a lot of its daily [dinghy] customers," she said.
According to Hernstadt, the city marina's daily dockage users represent 10 percent of its customer base.
City officials have expressed that in setting fees they do not want the city marina to be the cheapest nor the most expensive so as not to compete with private businesses that offer the same services.
In addition, city officials have said the rate hikes should be sufficient to hold for the next two or three fiscal years without an increase while at the same time providing for the marina's almost $1 million annual operating expense.
The Marathon City Council will consider the proposed rate changes at a future meeting and interested parties can speak during the citizen comment period.