2010-10-21 / News

Commissioners continue to discuss mooring fee hikes

By Sam Bari

Although the discussion was not conclusive, the Jamestown Harbor Commission continued to focus on the possibility of increasing mooring fees as a solution for funding harbor and infrastructure projects.

Harbor Chairman Mike de Angeli offered several ways of addressing the issue at the Oct. 13 meeting of the commission.

“One of the ways would be to get out of the infrastructure business,” de Angeli said. “Although I don’t recommend it. If we decided to put money in the general fund and let the town decide what to do with it, Mike Gray, the town engineer has a lot of projects on his list of things to do that would be ahead of harbor issues.

“By working with the split budget, the way we have it now, at least we have some control over how the funds are used, and we have some say in using the money to protect the boating public,” de Angeli added.

He went on to say that presently, the harbor commission can use 10 percent of the permit fees from both the private sector and the commercial leaseholders for infrastructure projects. All of the lease fees can be used for infrastructure, but the combination of 10 percent of permit money and all of the lease money is still inadequate.

At last month’s meeting, they discussed raising the amount for infrastructure from 10 percent to possibly 15 or 20 percent, which would come from the permit side of the budget.

However, the rates would still have to be raised. With more money going to infrastructure, there would be less for harbor expenses.

Presently, Jamestown mooring permit fees are substantially less than the mooring fees charged by other towns. By raising the rates to be in line with the surrounding area, the commissioners said the income generated would adequately fund much-needed projects.

They have yet to determine the exact amount of an increase to suggest to the Town Council.

Former commission chairman, Pat Bolger, attended the meeting and explained the history of the fee structure and lease arrangements so that the commissioners would have a better idea of how to proceed.

During the public forum, attorney Mathew P. Gabrilowitz from Feinstein and Gabrilowitz addressed the commission about the mooring rates. He said he was there to “help the commissioners so they don’t write illegal legislation.”

Gabrilowitz was the attorney who represented the “concerned boaters” group that filed suit against the town for misuse of funds approximately 10 years ago. The suit was dropped without prejudice and “there was no settlement agreement signed that would restrict us in what we do,” de Angeli said.

When Chairman de Angeli asked Gabrilowitz if he was representing anyone, Gabrilowitz responded by saying, “It’s none of your business.”

Gabrilowitz admitted to being an absentee permit holder, but he did not mention that to the commissioners. He acknowledged that he was a permit holder when he was asked after the meeting.

In other business, harbor secretary Kim Devlin said that the town is expecting $10,400 back from the Department of Environmental Management for a grant request for pump out maintenance.

She also said that the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) gave its assent to put out a request for proposal and bids for the Fort Getty boat ramp. The bids are expected to be returned by Nov. 19, and the project is scheduled for completion by May of next year.

The chairman of the Facilities Committee, Susan Little, said that she would like to post signs on all town property that says stickers are required to store dinghies.

Vice chairman Andrew Kallfelz said that beach storage of vessels is only allowed in areas defined by the ordinance. “Vessels can’t be stored anywhere just because they are on town property,” Kallfelz said.

De Angeli said the matter could be addressed when they discussed the ordinance.

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