OCEANSIDE — The Harbor and Beaches Advisory Committee unanimously voted down outsourcing harbor operations on March 21, after cost comparisons showed outsourcing would at best save $62,000 in the $2.7 million annual budget.
Oceanside is considering outsourcing solely to save money. Comparisons to present operating costs showed a much smaller percent of savings than anticipated.
A bid by California Yacht Marinas showed a small $62,000 annual savings the first year.
A bid by Almar Management Inc. came in $321,000 over what it presently costs the city to run the harbor.
“Staff is leery about entering into negotiations,” Frank Quan, Harbor and Beaches coordinator, said. “I don’t feel the dollar amount is enough to justify this particular agreement.”
Quan said companies that bid commented on cost-efficient city services and well-kept harbor facilities.
“Normally outsourcing happens when customers are not satisfied with services,” Quan said. “This is not the case here. We provide good service and keep slip fees under market rate.”
Commissioners voiced concerns that slip fees might be raised by an outside management company in five years or sooner and the amount may be higher than what the city would set, which is currently below area average rates.
There were also questions about the level of service outsourcing would provide and risks the city would face.
“It opens up the city to an enormous risk of the unknown,” Commissioner John Metz said. “We would have less control of the harbor. To have control we’re in a much better situation to deal with problems in the future.”
Commissioners stated they did not want to pursue the item further.
“In my opinion table it,” Commissioner Scott Townsend said. “The harbor belongs to the people of Oceanside. I want to see that continue.”
Despite information presented, Councilman Jerry Kern said long-term costs of the city operating the harbor might prove to be greater than outsourcing. He added that he would look into the expense of city employee PERS and health care costs before the item is brought to City Council April 3.
If harbor outsourcing gets approved 12 city employees would be laid off. Four city positions would remain in administration and maintenance.
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