Disappearing Act

Brent Headberg, contributor

Where have the boats (and the marina revenue) gone?

There are questions floating around the beautiful waters of the Lake Park Harbor Marina. The operations there have been a little like a “magic show“, complete with what looks like some “sleight of hand” and a few “disappearing acts”.

For starters, consider the favors being done for certain boats at the Lake Park Harbor Marina. In yesterday’s post it was mentioned that one of the recent concerns of residents was:

  • Marina Director offering discounted rates to certain boat owners causing additional shortfalls in the budget.

What follows are the reasons for this concern and a paper trail that sheds some light on things:

If you look at this spreadsheet link for the marina income for 2012, you will see a column labeled Slip Length. Slips are 30′ 40′ 50′ 60′. Then look over at the columns labeled Current Charge Length and Charge for Slip. As you scan down, there are quite a few boats that show a Charge Length less than the Slip Length.  This is where the Marina Director has discounted the monthly charges for certain boats. Based on what? Who can say.

It’s very interesting to see that at last Wednesday night’s meeting when Commissioner Hockman brought out these issues, the Town Manager said Commissioner Hockman’s numbers were incorrect. Shortly thereafter, the rate policy which had been listed on the website prior to the meeting was “magically” changed in what appears to be an attempt to give credibility to the Town Manager’s comments and avoid this controversy.

You can view the changes to the marina website screenshots on and after the September 21st budget meeting by clicking the link. The yellow highlights on the screenshots from the two different dates show the changes relevant to this concern.

Here is what the slip fee policy has been:

Rates are based on the size of the slip or the length of the boat, whichever is greater.  A 10% overhang will be allowed.  Example:  a 40′ slip with a 35′ boat would pay for 40′, a 30′ slip with a 33′ boat would pay for 33′.

Now the website is published as follows:

Summer Rates based on overall length of vessel
Winter and Annual rates based on overall length of vessel/slip whichever is greater

So let me get this straight. I say to myself: 

If I am a potential customer who wants to dock my boat at the Lake Park Harbor Marina during the Summer, I only pay $19.50/ft based on vessel length. If I am an annual customer who will sign a yearly contract and make a promise to stay there continuously for a year, or even if I am a Winter customer, part time, I have to pay for the slip length even if my boat is smaller than the slip size.

Does this make any sense?  Or is this new policy on the website the Town Manager’s attempt to cover up the Marina Director’s favoritism to certain boat owners?

The dockage policies prior to the recent website changes were established by the Commission, not the town’s staff. So why is the town staff making changes without a commission vote now?

What follows is a screenshot from the Town resolution, 29-08-10, which set the rates and policy regarding dockage. This was signed on August 18, 2010. Please note that the resolution does not differentiate between Summer, Winter or any other type of rates. It states instead that Rates are based on overall vessel or slip length, whichever is greater.  

You can read Resolution 29-08-10 in its entirety HERE

What looks like some sleight of hand here and some policy illusion there seems to have led to a disappearing act of  boats, revenue and the rate policy for the Lake Park Harbor Marina which the commission voted into effect last year.

These factors have led, in part, to what appears will be a Marina deficit of $375,000, for which Lake Park residents will end up footing the bill. This disappearing act is the kind of magic our town could do without.

Will the town staff be held accountable by the Commission in regard to these curious Marina disappearances? We will just have to wait and see at future Commission meetings. OR ~ you can do something about it now. If you have questions or concerns about these apparent disappearances, you can contact the Town Manager and the Town Commissioners. You can reach them via email HERE.