PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Marina owners in New Hampshire are fighting state-proposed slip fees they say will increase business costs for themselves and fishermen, and operating costs for boat owners, the Portsmouth Herald reported in an online story over the weekend.
“It’s a tax,” Wentworth by the Sea Marina Manager Pat Kelly told the newspaper. “That’s all it is – it’s a tax.”
A recent amendment in the state Senate took out the slip fees, but those fighting the bill are wary. Richard Morris, R-Seabrook, said the bill specifies recreational boats and slips, which still leaves commercial boaters and fishermen vulnerable, the Herald reported.
Though the fee amount for boat owners to dock their vessels at a slip has not been set, $7 is the price being talked about among those who would have to pay it. This is because $7 is also the fee currently being paid for moorings, and the legislation demands mooring and slip fees be comparable, according to the newspaper.
“At $7, I have just under 7,000 linear feet of dock,” Kelly said. “That’s taking 50 grand out of the marina I have to repair, I have to dredge. It’s taking cash out of the bottom line.”
The cost would eventually be passed on to boat owners who already pay $159 a foot to dock their boat at the Wentworth marina in New Castle, N.H., the newspaper reported.
While the marina has a waiting list of 200 people who may not be deterred by an extra $7 a foot, Hampton River Marina Manager Lenny Russell told the Herald his customers don’t have the disposable income to pay additional charges. He estimated that 15 of his 144 slip customers live on their boats. Instead of a waiting list, the Hampton marina has three, 40-foot slips available, at a cost of $5,000 each for the summer.
The marina lost 25 boat owners this year – a record, said Russell, who blames the turnover on the economy, higher fuel prices and cheaper slips at other waterways.
Winter boat storage costs $1,200 for the season.
“It’s $10,000 just to maintain a boat for the year,” Russell said. “This marina has never seen 25 people turn over.”
The Senate could vote on the amendment and bill separately or, even better for those against HB 428, kill it in committee.
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