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Port plans to hike marina rents

The Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a plan that will gradually raise the rents of current Port Orchard Marina tenants to the level of market rates, which in many cases is an increase of more than $100 a month.

“This is driven by a need to address the sustainability of the marina over the decades,” states the memo read by Chief Executive Officer Ken Attebery. “In light of the reduced growth in tax revenue to 1 percent ... steps in this direction will allow the Port’s limited tax dollars to be used to address the mission of the port to engage in new economic and job development in the community.”

Market rates will be imposed on new tenants who rent currently open slips after Jan. 1. Rates for existing tenants will be raised by 5.5 percent at that time as well, but only temporarily until the port’s “plan is complete and the Commission takes action to implement new rates and the transition plan.”

The plan, which board president Bill Mahan called “a multi-year process,” includes a series of meetings with the Port Orchard Marina Advisory Committee (POMAC) that will begin next January and extend through at least March.

According to the schedule, the goal of the POMAC meetings is to have rate information and a detailed description of the rate-setting process to present at “Town Hall Meetings” that will include all port stakeholders.

Before the commissioners approved the plan — which was prepared and recommended by port staff — Mahan suggested postponing the first scheduled town hall meeting until at least a few meetings with POMAC were held.

“I’m pretty confident it will take more than one meeting with POMAC to review the plan,” Mahan said.

The need for more meetings to explain the plan was exemplified by comments made by POMAC member Gary Hunter, who told the board at Tuesday’s meeting that he felt “blindsided.”

“It’s a lot of information to digest, and you’ve probably alienated a lot through the process,” Hunter said, explaining that his impression at the last POMAC meeting was that the rates would be raised for current tenants over a period of months, not years.

Mahan assured Hunter that raising the rates would be a “multi-year” process, and the rate increases were part of two directives the commissioners gave the port when it created its 2006 budget.

“We decided any new slips — starting Jan. 1 — would be rented at the market rate, and we would find a way to phase in the market rate for the current (tenants) over the years,” Mahan said. “We couldn’t understand why that wasn’t already so.”

According to the 2006 Marina Tariff Schedule, the difference between existing rates and market rates ranges from $20 a month to $247 a month. For example, a 20-foot, side-tie slip for existing tenants costs $84.80 a month and will cost $104.97 for new renters next year.

The current rate for a 52-foot covered slip is $330.20 a month, which will cost $577.51 next year.

The first meeting with POMAC regarding the rate-increase plan is scheduled for Jan. 18.

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