A 9% increase to all docks and harbors fees — with one exception — was passed by the City and Borough of Juneau’s Docks and Harbors Board on Wednesday night.
The proposed increases now head to the Assembly for a final decision. If passed by members the increase would go into effect beginning in January. Some of the 26 fees subject to the rise include moorage rates, resident surcharge rates, launch rates, parking rates and daily shore power fees.
The one exception to the 9% increase is the monthly moorage fees, which board members voted instead to stagger over three years, rising 3% each year.
Harbormaster Matthew Creswell said CBJ harbor fees have broadly remained unchanged since 2008 and cruise ship fees since 2005. He said the increases are necessary to address recent inflation and cost of maintenance. According to the board, the increases are based on a recent harbor rate study, which found a 9% rise in fees was needed to fund necessary maintenance, such as float replacement and maintenance, and additional future projects.
“The study validated our observation that our rates have not kept pace with the economic influence and that the harbor patrons are not generally willing to accept less facilities or reduction in services,” states a board information packet.
At the meeting Wednesday night, two residents spoke in opposition to the increase, one resident in favor. Clayton Hamilton, a local fisherman, argued an increase in the cost of the harbors would disproportionately affect local users and the liveaboard community. He urged the board to “leave the harbors alone.” In a letter to the board, he called the increase “irresponsible.”
“The harbor users in Juneau are paying too much,” he said. “The solution is to move forward on the docks enterprise fee increases — the 9% is fine — but leave the harbors alone.”
Another resident, Shane Kraus, who is a liveaboard, said the increase would financially impact his family and warned it would likely force liveaboards away from their homes, resulting in more abandoned vessels in the harbors.
Lacey Derr, a former DH board member, said she was in favor of the increases. She argued the “harbors are barely breaking even” and for current services to remain an increase is necessary. She said she too would be subjected to the increases herself as a current vessel owner.
The board received multiple written comments about the proposed increases, most expressing opposition.
Assembly member and board liaison Wade Bryson said in an interview Thursday he supports the increases and believes other members will as well.
“One of the harsh realities that we’re facing in the city is that just everything is more expensive,” he said. “Not increasing the 9% doesn’t make the higher costs go away, it only shifts the burden to citizens that maybe are not using the docks and harbors.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at email@example.com or (651)-528-1807.