Boynton charter owners not happy with potential boat slip increases

Prices could increase again this year for the business owners renting boat slips to run fishing charters, tours, and scuba diving trips out of the Boynton Harbor Marina.

The Community Redevelopment Agency owns the marina at Ocean Avenue and the Intracoastal Waterway, and on Wednesday night board members said they will make a decision in October on whether to raise prices for the 19 boat slips there. This was after CRA staff recommended no increase of $18 per linear vessel foot.

CRA Director Mike Simon recommends keeping the fees the same for the second straight year. He said the price is a “very competitive rate” and compared with other marinas nearby, “we’re not on the high end or the lowest end.”

READ: Rent increased last year for commercial boat owners at Boynton Harbor Marina

Commissioner Joe Casello disagreed, saying the completed marina has the public space and boardwalk where the dive shop sat, the Harbor Master building, fuel dock and public restrooms and that the Banana Boat restaurant is undergoing a renovation.

“The marina has vastly improved aesthetically. If we were going to raise our rate wouldn’t this be the time to raise the rate?” he asked.

The board, with Commissioner Mack McCray absent, voted to research how much a $1 increase per linear vessel foot would produce and how that price compares with other marinas.

Captain Brad Terry, who runs Great Day Sportfishing in the Gulf Stream, said an increase in rent would mean raising his prices.

“Normally it was like every third year they were raising the price. Now they want to do it every year? That ain’t right,” he said. “Usually we only raise our price to our customers every three years based on taxes, dock rent, price of fuel, price of insurance, everything goes up. We are out there to show the public a good time and make it affordable for them to go fishing.”

The fishing charter owner, who has been on the marina for 15 years, said business is good for only about eight to nine months a year, so those in the field have to budget during the slow period.

The $1 increase would cost about $500 more per year for him.

Still, Terry understood what might be behind the increase.

“They’ve got their reasons, too,” he said of the CRA. “Probably because they did a bunch of work around there to beautify the place. Maybe they’re just passing that on to us.”

Last September, the CRA board increased the slip lease rate from $16 per linear vessel foot to $18. There hadn’t been a lease increase since 2012. Last year’s hike was based on a comparison study of slip rates charged by public and privately owned marinas, according to documents.

Some owners disagreed with thebump last year, but that yearly price was still less than some Palm Beach County municipal marinas such as the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina, the City of Delray Docks and the Lake Park Marina. For some Boynton businesses, the $2 increase cost them between $800 and $1,000 per year.

The CRA also wants to require that the businesses give them quarterly trip reports so the agency can have data on how many visitors and residents are using the marina. And the agency plans to continue to offer fuel discounts for the businesses.

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