Harbor fees to go before town

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — On Dec. 14, the Southwest Harbor Select Board will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. to get input from residents about the proposed 2022 Harbor Fee Schedule. 

The Select Board met on Nov. 23 and reviewed changes to the proposed schedule that was drafted by the Harbor Committee earlier in the month. 

“You’ve got some fees that went up substantially, a number of fees were eliminated, and a number of new fees went up as well,” said Interim Town Manager Dana Reed. 

Nick Madeira, chair of the Harbor Committee, attended the board meeting to present the suggested fees, which included a $36 increase to the Mooring Registration: Boat, Lobster Car or Float fee for residents and a $66 dollar increase for nonresidents. “The $6 add on [to the fee] is an administrative fee based on the software cost,” he said. That fee applies to boats, lobster cars, floats and Corps of Engineers approved moorings. Each Mooring Registration fee includes one dinghy float permit. 

The Dinghy Float Use Permit fee for non-mooring owners had a proposed increase from $10 to $100 for residents and from $20 to $200 for nonresidents, which Madeira said was changed to be on par with other harbors, including neighboring Bass Harbor. 

After a review and discussion, the board voted to change some of the Harbor Committee’s proposed increases and remove fee recommendations. 

Southwest Harbor resident Ryan Donahue wanted an explanation as to why a Dock and Ramp Permit: Unlimited Uses fee had been recommended to increase again from $880 to $2,500 for residents.  

“It was $800 last year for residents and went up to $880, which was a 10 percent increase. This year it has gone up significantly to a 280 percent increase,” Donahue said. 

According to Madeira, the Harbor Committee recommended the increased fee based on other harbor’s prices – some that charge a flat fee and others that charge a per-use fee.  

“It’s a significant increase, but if you do the math for this flat unlimited use fee, people are getting a pretty significant discount,” Madeira said.  

This permit includes unlimited commercial use of both boat ramps and transfer of equipment and/or tackle from the pier. It excludes commercial fisherman and lobster-buying trucks. 

The board voted to decrease the Dock and Ramp Permit: Unlimited Uses fee from $2,500 to $1,000 for residents and from $5,000 to $2,200 for nonresidents. 

The Lobster Buyer Truck Permit fee for both residents and nonresidents is proposed to increase from $5,000 to $6,000. 

The board recommended a decrease in the Harbor Committee’s proposed Kayak Outfitter Permit fee, which will go from $400 to $480 for residents and from $800 to $960 for nonresidents. 

According to fee schedule document, ‘“Resident’ is defined by our Coastal Waters and Harbor Ordinance as ‘Any person who occupies a dwelling with[in] the Town of Southwest Harbor for more than 183 days or pays Real Estate Taxes to the Town of Southwest Harbor.’” 

The draft Harbor Fee Schedule is available on the Harbormaster’s bulletin board, at the Town Clerk’s office or online at www.southwestharbormaine.org. 

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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