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Port increases moorage fees at Port Orchard
By LESLIE KELLY | For the Independent
Rents are going up for boat owners with covered moorage at the Port Orchard Marina.
Commissioners for the Port of Bremerton unanimously approved a 5 percent increase in moorage rates Tuesday for covered spots at the Port Orchard Marina. The Port Orchard Marina is owned and operated by the Port of Bremerton.
Port CEO Jim Rothlin said Bob Wise, a consultant to the port, recommended that the rates be increased 10 percent. But the staff's recommendation was 5 percent.
That would mean that the owner of a 36-foot boat slip would see the rent go up from $305.64 to $320.92.
Rothlin said even with the 5 percent increase, Port Orchard's rates would remain competitive and would be less that at other marinas in the target market area.
With the increase that begins June 1, the port will see an extra $12,324 a year.
“Covered moorage like what we have at Port Orchard is sought after,” said Rothlin. “The staff's feeling is that we can raise it 5 percent this year without any issues for current tenants.”
Comparable covered moorage is from $8 to $13 a foot, whereas before the raise, the rates at Port Orchard were from $7 to $11, depending on exact location.
Following the vote to approve the increase, Port Commissioner Larry Stokes reminded fellow commissioners and staff that while the Port Orchard Marina may be full and making a profit, there's a need to save money for future needs at the marina.
“When you have a $30 million marina, you need to put back about $250,000 a year over the lifetime of the marina so that we will be in the financial place that we can replace it when needed,” he said. “We need to be saving a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year to do that.”
In an accompanying measure, the commission also approved a change in lease terms at the Bremerton Marina. Currently moorage is offered at a base rate of $288 a month for a 36-foot slip, with the seventh month free. But commissioners were told last month by Wise that the offer should be changed to reflect a lower rate for seven months.
In doing that, rates will now be $247 a month for that same 36-foot slip for seven months with a signed seven month lease. Rothlin said this new arrangement will allow staff to quote the lower contractual rate which will be a "more effective" marketing incentive.
The new incentive option becomes effective May 1.
In a related matter, the port also approved a new schedule of late fees. CFO Becky Swanson told commissioners that the amount of staff time to process late fees has significantly increased in past months. She estimated that at Port Orchard in any given month 28 to 35 percent of tenants who paid late.
At the Bremerton Marina, the range was from 7 to 20 percent. For hangars and tie-downs at the airport, the late payments were from 3 to 5 percent of tenants, and at the Olympic Industrial Park, there were anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of tenants who paid late.
“It’s a little bit alarming,” Swanson said. “And when it goes beyond 60 days, we have to file the appropriate legal papers and chain down the boat and begin the process of seizing and selling it.”
Late fees beginning June 1 will be raised from a minimum of $20 to $40 per month on any unpaid balance of $35 or more. The acutely amount can be 1.5 percent of the unpaid balance per month, if that is greater than $40.
While Swanson said the fiscal impact is unknown, she anticipates the increased late fees will be a deterrent for many.
“I don't know financially what this may bring in,” she said. “What we're hoping to do is change the behavior of tenants.”