Portsmouth considers residential mooring fees

Mooring

MooringPORTSMOUTH — Local residents have been getting a free ride when it comes to their boat moorings, but that may all change in the near future.

“I would like to discuss rates this year,” Town Council member Molly Magee said Monday night during a discussion on a proposed change to the harbormaster ordinance.

Other council members agreed that, with an ever-tightening municipal budget, residents should be required to pay an annual mooring fee at some point.

Ms. Magee said if residents were charged $50 per mooring, the town could raise over $30,000 in much-needed revenue.

“We’ve got to really look hard … to increase revenue. If we wait another year we’re just digging a hole deeper,” she said

Town Administrator John Klimm said the town’s Harbor Commission is in process of reviewing the budget with the harbormaster and police chief. They’re considering a fee increase in September for next fiscal year, which he acknowledged won’t be popular with some residents.

“There are going to be people in this town who aren’t going to be happy, because they haven’t been charged in the past,” Mr. Klimm said.

Council member David Gleason, the panel’s liaison to the Harbor Commission, said the commission is considering a $20 fee for residential moorings.

“I think that’s a bargain,” he said, pointing out that Barrington charges its residents $150 for a mooring.

The revenue raised would help pay the harbormaster’s salary or for any other expenses, such as damage to the police boat. Currently, all that comes out of the police chief’s budget, Mr. Gleason said.

The discussion of mooring fees was prompted by an agenda item on a proposed amendment to the harbormaster ordinance. The change, approved in a 6-1 vote, allows the council to set mooring fees directly, rather than requiring the town to spend money to advertise for a public hearing for each fee change.

Council member Elizabeth Pedro voted against the motion, saying the harbormaster ordinance already states that mooring fees are defined annually by the Town Council.

“So we should already be doing that,” she said.

Snow budget woes

In other news Monday night, Mr. Klimm revealed that the town has already spent the majority of its snow removal budget.

“The budget for snow removal is $80,000 a year, and we’ve spent $60,000 so far,” he said.

Exceeding the snow budget budget doesn’t mean the town would stop plowing oads, of course. Officials would, however, have to find funds elsewhere in the overall budget.

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