Town Wants Much Higher Mooring Field Rents

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The mooring field is becoming more popular according to Fort Myers Beach Harbormaster Austin Gilchrist. And, he says, its time to raise the rates. Gilchrest shared his input with the Fort Myers Bach Anchorage Advisory committee which makes recommendations to the town council.

The demand to moor off Fort Myers Beach is increasing. Currently there are 63 boats in the field compared to last year at this time when there were 37. According to Gilchrist, the increased popularity is due to improved customer service and the relatively low cost compared to other mooring fields.

Town staff compared fees and amenities of the Fort Myers Beach mooring field with others around the state, and according to Gilchrist, “Were charging less than most of the marinas and offering more.” He said, we need to make a change, referring to how much the town charges.

Staff indicated the current rate has been in place a long time to which committee members agreed. Staff reported they are looking at a 32% rate increase which was based on their research that found there was a 36% cost of living increase in the area.

The increase would put the new fee at $412 a month, up from $312. Weekly and daily rates would also be increased, according to Gilchrist.

The committee is also looking at increasing the cost of a parking pass for mooring field residents from $25 to $35 a month. Committee members questioned if the parking rate would affect all parking passes. Gilchrist said he’s been discussing with the town whether the fee can be raised on the mooring field residents separate from other town residents.

The increased mooring field fees will help cover the increased cost in electricity, water fuel insurance and employee salaries. The mooring field has never had a fulltime employee until recently now that Gilchrist salary comes out of the maritime budget. Gilchrest said, “We are trying to relieve the tax burden on the people. We no longer want the mooring field to be a drain on the town or the taxpayers.”

Public Works Manager Jason Freeman indicated they still anticipate the general revenue fund to help support the mooring field up to a point but the suggested increase in fees will “be enough to not only maintain the level of service but continue to match that with the expansion.” The town is in the process of adding an additional 19 mooring balls to their field.

Anchorage Advisory committee members Doug Eckmann said, “What I hear you saying is you have to raise the rate to cover the costs and level of service you project. That makes sense.”

The committee requested more time to review the fee increase research the staff did before making a recommendation to the town council.

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