OCEANSIDE — Council OK’d a plan to incrementally increase harbor slip rental fees by $1 per boat foot beginning July 1 and continuing $1 increases January 1 and July 1, 2012 in a 3-2 vote on May 18. Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted no.
The total increase will add $3 per boat foot to slip fees over 14 months.
Harbor and Beaches Coordinator Frank Quan said any less of an increase would mean a reduction in two police officers and one maintenance officer at the harbor. The harbor also faces urgently needed electrical repairs and sewer line maintenance.
Boat owners and live aboards asked why previous harbor budgets did not foresee these expenses.
Boat owners said they have already been hit with a 33 percent increase in slip rental fees since December. Many questioned where the money has gone and when the increases will stop.
“You’ve removed the affordability factor from my home,” Ed Vaca, a boat owner and long time live aboard, said.
Others said the harbor capital improvement budget costs do not add up.
There were also complaints that specific harbor budget cuts recommended by boat owners have not been implemented. Some called the budget shortfall a “spending problem.”
“Take a good sharp pencil and a good manager and come up with the cuts,” Les George, a boat owner, said. “Do not feel these slip renters are the cash cow for the city.”
Many boat owners said council has not listened to their input.
“If the budget is managed it will be in the black and stay in the black,” Jim Jenkins, Harbor and Beaches Advisory member, said.
City staff will provide updates to council prior to fee increases July 1, January 1 and July 1, 2012.
Staff will also look into utilizing revenues from harbor parking fees and full time rental of some of the 35 guest slips to further help balance the harbor budget.