BAR HARBOR — Port fees charged to cruise ships that anchor and send passengers ashore here are set to increase this year and annually in the future.
During a budget workshop Jan. 18, town councilors bumped the fee up 1.7 percent, to $4.37. The annual increase is to be tied to inflation via the Consumer Price Index, Councilor Matt Hochman said.
The previous port fee, a combination of a passenger service fee and a port development fee, was $4.30 per passenger.
Hochman said a motion to raise the port fee by 4 percent failed before the yearly bump was proposed and accepted. He said councilors were “generally in favor of the increase.”
Port fees are only paid by cruise ships that anchor in one of the anchorages managed by the town, and that send passengers ashore. Anchoring fees for private yachts will not change.
The Cruise Ship Committee did not recommend any fee changes in its annual report.
Town officials also discussed the revenue possibilities of a potential marina at the abandoned ferry terminal property at the Jan. 23 Town Council budget workshop.
Town Councilor Gary Friedmann asked Harbormaster Charlie Phippen if a marina could be a revenue-creating venture.
“I know there seems to be a lot of local interest in having a marina available for smaller boats,” Phippen said. “I think the potential is there for some expansion on marina activity. If it’s there, it’s going to be used.”
Knowing the town’s target boat demographic — local boat owners or transient traffic — would be important for any revenue estimates, Phippen said Friday.
He said the business plan that the town is commissioning from consultants Bermello and Ajamil could address that question.
“I would hope to find out with the business plan study,” he said. “That would be a hard question for me to answer because I don’t have the financial knowledge on it.”
The ferry terminal property advisory committee recommended a multi-use marina at the property in November. The council accepted the recommendation but did not take any formal action other than to exercise the option to purchase the property. The business plan, estimated to be complete in February, is expected to include goals outlined by the advisory committee.