Posted on 24 February 2013.
Storm-damaged docks at the Ben Hickey Marina claimed much of the time at Tuesday’s Runaway Bay City Council meeting.
To compensate residential leaseholders who have not had access to their marina slips since microburst winds in excess of 65 miles-per-hour blew through in August, the council authorized a one-time $50 adjustment on bills that will be sent out at the end of the month.
“The way this is written out, if people want to donate their $50, then they don’t ask for a refund,” Mayor Robert Ryan said. “If they don’t want to donate $50 a month, then they do ask for a refund of one month, or $50.”
Because the council does not yet know how many tenants will choose to donate and how many will opt for the adjustment, a specified budget impact was not readily available.
“If everyone asks for an adjustment – which I’m fairly certain is not going to happen – we’re looking at a three-fourths of a cent tax rate (increase),” Ryan said. “It’s really unknown, at this point, as to how that would affect us financially.”
City officials believe the potential maximum increase is enough.
“We can’t expect the rest of the citizens of Runaway Bay to pay for the marinas,” Jerry St. John said. “For leaseholders, it’ll either be additional, higher fees to make up for that shortfall, or continue to pay the $50 fee.”
City secretary Oneta Berghoefer added that customers can cancel their lease at any time and get a pro-rated amount returned on what’s been paid.
“Nobody’s come forward to do that,” she said. “They want to hang on to their spot. We currently have a waiting list of 30 people.”
In November, the council accepted a $173,998 proposal from Basic IDIQ to repair the marina docks. However, additional work has since been identified. To fund that, the council on Tuesday approved a financing agreement with Government Capital in the amount of $65,000. It will be financed at $14,000-plus for five years.
However, the council will check to see if other parties can also be held accountable and thus help with the expense.
“There be may be some negligence on the part of the insurance company or the contractor,” Councilman Neil Peters said. “We need to look into that.” Peters said a contractor was asked to come work on the docks, and promised to do so, but said he was “too busy.”
Councilman Berry White supported efforts to collect from other parties but said the city needs to go ahead and start on the repairs.
“We can always come back and make the adjustment.” he said.
The financing agreement originally included funds to add 10 slips to the “b docks” and generate additional revenue for the city, as discussed at a work session Feb. 13. That would’ve necessitated a $150,000 loan that would, in turn, require a three-cent tax-rate increase for five years to pay off.
Given that financial burden, and taking into account the additional repairs that came with the change order along with the number of years it would take before the city realized any profit, the council decided against adding the slips.
“In light of the fact that we’re going to need funds for other capital outlay items, as well as water and sewer issues that we’ll be exposed to, hopefully within another 30 days, as a result of our water study being completed … I don’t feel like the return on those additional slips was important at this time,” Mayor Ryan said.
“For sure we’ve got to do the repairs if we’re going to operate the marina. I would hope we wouldn’t want to obligate ourselves for that additional amount of money in light of the other things that we know are coming down.”
Councilman White agreed, adding, “It would not be the prudent thing to do economically.”
Work at the marina started in the last week.
“Hopefully we’ll see that come together in the next two or three months,” Berghoefer said.