Fugitive boat dealer that faked death turns himself in to police

The BI Weekly 5 is a collection of tips, news and data affecting the boating industry this week. Be sure to look for the BI Weekly 5 every Tuesday on BoatingIndustry.com.

1. Fugitive boat dealer that faked death turns himself in to police

Andrew Biddle, the professional boat racer and business manager of a New Jersey boat dealership, has turned himself into police seven months after faking his death.
Biddle and Tracy Blumenstein, owner of Professional Boat Sales in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., were accused of bilking customers in a variety of ways. On July 20, Biddle and another man were in a pontoon accident. The other passenger survived, but Biddle was never found. Within a matter of weeks, investigators reported that they believed Biddle had faked the accident in order to escape criminal prosecution.

2. Florida neighbors fear Sea Ray expansion

The Sea Ray plant near Flagler Beach, Fla., has asked for rezoning to expand its parking lot, but area residents are fighting the request, the Palm Coast Observer reported.
That’s because those residents fear it will lead to expanded production at the boat builder’s facility. The Flagler County Planning Board voted against the rezoning last week, but the issue will go before the County Commission, which has final say, in March.

3. Ohio governor’s tax plan could raise cost of boats

A new plan of varied tax cuts and increases from Ohio Gov. John Kasich would make it more expensive to buy a new boat when trading in a used one, the Sandusky Register reported.
While the plan includes a lower income tax, part of the shortfall would be covered by increasing the sales tax paid when trading in a used boat or car on a new purchase. Under the existing law, the value of the new car or boat is reduced by the value of the trade-in for sales tax purposes. Under Kasich’s plan, that discount would be cut in half.

4. Port backlog worsens in California

The number of ships stacking up off the California coast is continuing to grow as the labor dispute in the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports continues, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez is headed to California to try to jump-start talks between the Pacific Maritime Assn., and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The parties have been negotiating for nine months.

5. Consumer sentiment down from January

The preliminary Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for February dropped to 93.6, down from 98.1 in January, which was an 11-year high.  Analysts said the change could reflect an increase in gas prices this month.

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