Back in June at the Fort Myers Beach Anchorage Advisory Committee meeting town staff suggested raising the rates in the mooring field by 32%. Committee members said that hike was too high.
After comparing rates and amenities with other mooring field operations around the state, town staff determined Fort Myers Beach was offering more but charging less and a fee hike would help cover cost increases in electricity, fuel and insurance. According to Harbormaster Austin Gilchrist Fort Myers Beach also needs to improve services and hire more people because, he says, they are currently understaffed.
The proposed rate hike on mooring field residents was based on town staff’s research that found there was a 36% cost of living increase in the area. Back in June, the committee requested more time to review the 36% fee increase, before making a recommendation to the town council.
Last week the committee met again and discussed the proposed increase so they could make their recommendation to the town council before the upcoming budget public hearings. Gilchrist said one of the biggest complaints about the mooring field last year was nobody being able to get into the field to stay. He said, because the rates are so low, people would stay and, “we don’t get that transient flow.”
Committee members agreed that the current rates were too low and had not been increased in years. They also said a 32% hike was a too much. Committee Chair Katherine Light proposed the increase be dropped to 25%. She explained her rationale for the lower adjustment. “I’m thinking how our patrons would feel with this huge increase all at once.”
A 25% hike would result in the following increases: $405 for a month, up from $332, $133 for a week, up from $106 and $23 for a day, up from $18. Committee member Doug Eckmann said that increase “appears to be reasonable and it would put the rates similar to other local mooring rates.”
Defending his proposed higher increase, Gilchrist said it was to cover “the things we wanted to do moving forward and that any lack of that is going to be a sacrifice in services.” He explained how they looked at other mooring field rates “but ultimately it came down to where we see the field going.”
Ultimately, the committee vote last week was unanimous to recommend to the town council that they increase the mooring field rental rates by 25% for the next fiscal year.
The town council is holding two budget public hearings next month, September 8th and 22nd at 5:01 in the evening.