The Wrangell Port Commission met for a workshop Tuesday to discuss raising moorage rates.
Harbormaster Greg Meissner explained the harbor department is not bringing in enough revenue to repair and replace floats and other equipment. And with state grants drying up quickly, Wrangell will have to rely on its own savings.
Commission Chairman Clay Hammer said he does not want to make any huge rate changes, but they need to stay competitive while putting enough money in deferred and regular maintenance funds.
“We need to come up with a figure of what those needs actually are,” Hammer said. “How much do we need to put into our deferred maintenance? And $20,000 to $25,000 a year to maintain the floats and the timbers and the boards, given the size of the harbors we have now, seems woefully inadequate to me.”
Wrangell’s moorage rates are some of the lowest in the state.
Meissner said there is a lot of room to raise rates without getting close to what other towns charge.
“If you want to put $50,000 more in the bank every year, raise it $3 a foot. If you want to put $20,000 on top of that into maintenance, to take care of the old stuff while you’re trying to make more money, you have to do both,” Meissner said. “That comes out to [an increase of] $4 a foot or $4.50 a foot. There’s a number for you that’ll make around $70,000, and you can put some in the bank, some in the maintenance.”
Meissner said the harbor department’s savings will be starting from scratch if the floats at Shoemaker Bay Harbor are replaced through a state matching grant.
Commercial fisherman Alan Reeves said he thinks Shoemaker Bay Harbor may not be necessary or affordable, and that the community needs to start living within its means. He had another idea for creating more space.
“What is truly needed–we may not need a new harbor–is we need to open up some stalls, and get it more competitive like Petersburg,” Reeves said. “That’s why these yachts are in our harbor, is because it’s cheap.”
Reeves said the whole community should have input on whether replacing the Shoemaker Bay floats is necessary.
The Port Commission has not made any decisions regarding rates yet. Hammer said there is still a lot of work to do.