Marina Rate Increases Scheduled for November 15th Approval
by Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER - The Clearwater Municipal Marina would return to profitability in 2009 courtesy of rate increases that were discussed during the October 29th City Council worksession meeting.
A 2008-2012 Marina business plan had been proposed during the October 17th Council meeting that addressed the money-losing operation. Chief among the changes in that plan were increases in the slip rental rates for both commercial and recreational tenants, and reducing the discounts on fuel sales.
City residents would have faced increases from today's slip rate of $5.28 per foot per month to $14.84 in 2012, a monthly rent lower than that planned for the Downtown boat slips. The rate of increase for non-resident recreational boaters would be steeper, from a proposed $10.51 in 2008 to a market rate of $15.75 per foot per month in 2010, in parity with the Downtown slips in the year they are projected to open.
Commercial slips would also yield more revenue, with proposed percentage increases of 15 in 2008, 25 in 2009, 25 in 2010, 10 in 2011 and 10 in 2012. Commercial rates are established by passenger capacity, not boat length. For a 6-passenger vessel, slip rent would increase from $389.91 in 2008 to $626.59 in 2012; for vessels rated for 161 passengers and greater, the proposed 2008 rate of $1586.74 would grow to $3416.57 by 2012.
The Council asked for two adjustments to the proposed slip rates on Monday: bringing the resident recreational rate to $15.75 by 2010, and reducing the increases in commercial rates in 2009 and 2010 to 10-percent. The 25-percent increases in commercial rates would be delayed until 2011 and 2012, when an improvement in the Clearwater Beach tourism industry is hoped for.
The Council also asked that fuel prices be increased to market rates and that discounts be reduced. Under the marina's current pricing, the city loses 9-cents per gallon of diesel charged at the commercial discount of 27-cents per gallon. In 2006, the marina pumped 692,421 gallons of diesel fuel, 98-percent of which was sold at a discount.
Margie Simmons, Clearwater's Finance Director, projected that increasing pump prices to market rates and reducing the commercial discount to 20-cents per gallon would result in a 31-cent per gallon increase in fuel cost for the marina's commercial tenants.
The net effect of increases in slip rates and fuel prices would show a loss of nearly $30-thousand in 2008 (an improvement over the status-quo $200-thousand loss), and profits of $131-thousand, $313-thousand, $417-thousand and $546-thousand in fiscal years 2009-2012 respectively.
The details of the Council-requested changes to the Marina business plan will be discussed at tonight's City Council meeting. Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said that the plan would be voted on at the November 15th Council meeting in order to give the Marina's commercial tenants time to evaluate the proposal.
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