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February 06, 2014
GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Rental rates at the municipal marina are increased 3 percent this year to help shore up the financially floundering harbor fund.

New rates mean that a 25-foot well, renting last year for $870, costs $896 this year.

The marina’s largest well, for 60-foot boats, renting last year for $4,176, increases to $4,301.

Even with the hike, the first in two years, landlubbers may be drawn into bailing out the fund, which turned turtle and shows no sign of righting itself.

The marina at Osius Park traditionally operates from a stand-alone proprietary fund fueled by boating fees.

“You’re supposed to make money in a proprietary fund,” said Grosse Pointe Shores Mayor Ted Kedzierski. “We’ve lost money in the marina, without factoring depreciation.”

General taxpayer money may be tapped to pay some harbor costs because the public has access to harbor facilities, especially the scenic boardwalk, a popular fishing and sightseeing spot.

“It’s not strictly for boaters,” said Councilman Robert Gesell, of the finance committee. “There may be something we can look at to see where we can meet that portion of that.”

The boardwalk is part of harbor reconstruction financed in 2007 by issuing 30-year bonds at about 4 percent interest.

“The bond issue was based on full occupancy (of the harbor),” said Mark Wollenweber, city manager.

Yet, the rental rate last summer fell short at 92 percent.

“That’s been the history for the last few years,” said Councilman Robert Barrette, chairman of the parks and harbor committee.

The city has been meeting bond obligations so far by dipping into reserves, Kedzierski said.

“It’s going to get worse because the principle is going to increase,” added Councilman Bruce Bisballe, chairman of the finance committee.

The 3 percent increase for this year matches one from two years ago, but doesn’t price the Shores beyond the market, including private marinas in St. Clair Shores, according to Barrette.

“We only had a cursory comparison with Jefferson Beach,” said Frank Tenkel, of the harbor committee. “Some (marinas) are priced below where we are now.”

Shores boaters reserving a municipal well for next season must pay half the rental fee by Tuesday, Feb. 18, according to Tom Krolczyk, harbor master.

The balance is due by Tuesday, April 15.

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