Archived Story

Council to consider new management plan for docks

Published 6:19pm Saturday, July 27, 2013

In a memorandum the City Council may discuss during its meeting Monday, the city’s chief planner outlines a new management structure for the city-owned docks.

The memorandum from John Rodman, the city’s director of planning and development, recommends the following:

• creation of a dockmaster position. The dockmaster would be responsible for activities along the city’s waterfront.

• creation of a waterfront ad-hoc committee to assist the dockmaster and make recommendations regarding management of all matters pertaining to the docks, anchorages and plans for use of the waterfront.

• the committee would be responsible for making recommendations to the city manager and the City Council, through the appropriate management entity, in regards to operations, marketing, and long-range facilities management.

• the docks should be viewed as a business, with profit/loss capabilities. A separate enterprise fund should be considered.

Rodman’s memorandum comes after the council heard a presentation (on July 1) by the maritime committee of the Washington Harbor District Alliance. That presentation called for the city to consider operating the docks as an “enterprise fund,” which means the docks would be run like a business, possibly including the sale of fuel for boats. The council delayed any possible action on the matter, asking city staff to explore the issue.

A business plan — developed by former City Manager Josh Kay — suggests the city consider selling fuel for boats at the docks.

“In general, municipalities build waterfront docks primarily as a benefit servicing the community and/or supporting local economic development initiative,” Rodman wrote in the memorandum. “Few municipally operated marinas would claim that economic performance was the main purpose for operating a dock facility. Most municipal docks don’t always turn a profit.

“It’s expensive to upgrade and maintain pilings and decking and related appurtenances on the water, and user fees only bring in so much.

“It’s admirable that local officials want to make marina operations as cost-effective as possible, but it’s also important to remember that everything a town does for its citizens and visitors shouldn’t be judged solely on whether it pays for itself.”

Rodman writes that the docks must become financially secure.

“As the marina grows, the operation should move away from being directly run on day to day basis by the City’s general fund via an enterprise fund for Marina operations and management. The city dock fund should become an independent enterprise fund separate from the general fund,” Rodman wrote.





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