Local News

Harbor fee increase on the way in Petersburg

Harbor fee increases in Petersburg are one step closer to taking effect. Petersburg’s city council Monday approved the second reading of an ordinance increasing permanent and transient moorage fees, as well as charges for cruise ships and use of other harbor facilities.

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The increases are intended to balance the harbor budget, not to pay for replacement of Petersburg’s north harbor, although that project does impact the department’s bottom line. Harbor master Glorianne Wollen explained that the harbor has been using its cash reserves to make an annual 120-thousand dollar payment for debt from another project. “All our reserves are going to be now spent on the new construction of the north harbor including the reserves we were building up this year, the 600,000, that the harbor fund received from this year’s portion over and above the 400,000 that went to the general fund,” Wollen said. “So it isn’t going, I suppose in a roundabout way but really, the rates are going to balance the harbor budget and we should have enough money hopefully by patching this all together to build the north harbor project on its own.”

As proposed, moorage fees for permanent stalls 40 feet and larger would increase, with the largest increases for the biggest stalls. Transient moorage rates also would go up, along with gear storage fees, and charges for the crane dock, use of the power washer and harbor showers. Cruise ships will pay another 100 dollars per stop.

The city plans to advertise the nine million dollar reconstruction of north harbor in January and will be using a combination of money to cover that cost. Councilors last month approved spending one and a quarter million dollars from the electric utility reserves, along with that 600-thousand from the harbor reserves and 200-thousand from the city’s property development fund to make up the remaining money needed for that project.
Later in the meeting, councilor Don Koenigs, who was not at last month’s vote on funding for the north harbor work, took issue with using electrical reserves for a harbor project without repaying that money.

“For one to say the harbor has an electric demand, you could do that with any project. You could’ve done it with the library, you could’ve done it with the fire hall and say all those electrical costs we’re gonna let the rate payers pay for it and I don’t agree with it,” Koenigs said.

That one and a quarter million dollars equals the cost of new lighting and wiring components in the new north harbor. The mayor and council did not hear any input from the public during a hearing on the fee hikes and passed the change in second reading by a 6-0 vote. Councilor John Hoag was not at the meeting. The ordinance needs one more council approval before the new fees take effect.

Also Monday, the mayor and council appointed John Havrilek to a vacant council seat. He’s a former council member and is also seeking a seat on the borough assembly. Havrilek worked in education for nearly three decades and also as the tribal administrator for the Petersburg Indian Association.

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