by William Tatsuda
September 27, 2004
1. Stop waiting for the State of Alaska to offer additional State funding in the near future. The State has made its intentions clear through its negotiations with the City and by putting Hole In The Wall and Knudsen Cove Harbors on the auction block. At this point it does not look like Santa or the Tooth Fairy will come through either. The State will no longer maintain the harbors throughout Alaska, so now it is up to the harbor users to pay for the operation and maintenance harbors.
2. Devise a Harbor Financial Plan that lays out realistic expenditures for operation, reconditioning, and future maintenance. Include a detailed timeline for major replacements and upgrades together with estimated costs. Work with the current City harbor consultants, and to keep costs down, consult with local contractors with experience in float building and maintenance in this area.
3. Issue Harbor revenue bonds to cover the cost of major maintenance and reconditioning that needs to be done at this time. Calculate what harbor revenues that will be necessary to cover debt service, operations, and future maintenance. Raise permanent and transient moorage rates at all harbors as soon as possible. A dedicated maintenance fund should be set up, which is separate from the harbor operating fund. Harbors users will need assurance that a large portion of their fees will go for harbor reconditioning and maintenance and not for simply more employees driving around in pickups.
4. After the harbors are made self-sufficient with harbor user fees, the City should go after Federal and State discretionary grants for specific improvements, upgrades, and additions.
The key component to this plan is to make the harbors self-sufficient by raising user fees. Public harbors throughout Alaska have enjoyed low fees while the State footed the bill for maintenance. Now that the State will no longer cover that major portion of harbor costs, it is up to harbor users to shoulder that burden. Substantial increases in rates should be expected. The State is leaving us with harbors in poor condition, so we have the added burden of deferred maintenance. I believe that the City can refurbish and provide for the future maintenance of all of our harbors and still be competitive with private marinas in the Borough and those of Washington State. Current City moorage rates are approximately $1.30 in-town and $1.60 out of town per foot per month. Private local marinas average around $3.00 per foot per month. Public moorage rates in Washington State average around $6.15 per foot per month.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.