PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend commissioners have added a second year to a test program to charge half price per foot for patrons to keep their boats in the boatyard during the off-season.
The three commissioners unanimously approved seasonal yard rates Wednesday, using a Consumer Price Index analysis to bump the rate up a penny from last year to 36 cents per foot per day.
The rate will be in effect from Oct. 1 through March 31, 2020.
The daily rate typically is 75 cents per foot per day, or a monthly rate of 60 cents per foot per day, with at least one month prepaid.
“We believe discounted yard rates, over time, will generate more money, but we believe we don’t have enough information to not continue our test program,” Port Executive Director Jim Pivarnik said.
Commissioners also approved daily and monthly utility surcharges for the first time, hoping to recover some of the $10,000 in annual expenses the agency previously has absorbed.
“Every month, we end up with a variance with a negative figure,” Commissioner Steve Tucker said as the board examined financial reports. “Even with these flat-rate fees, we’re not recovering all of our expenses.”
The utility charge will be a rate of $1.50 per day or $30 per month. It’s optional, depending on whether a customer uses electricity.
An electrical offset study showed the port absorbed $32,658.28 in electrical charges from September 2018 through April 2019, compared with $22,625 from the same period a year earlier.
Two charts showed a comparison between a $1 charge per day and the approved $1.50 daily fee. The $1.50 daily charge is expected to bring in $29,610, which would have covered 91 percent of the port’s electric expenses during the period between last September and this April.
The absorbed cost with that model was down to about $3,000, the port analysis showed.
Commissioners took the rate approval as a temporary fix, hoping to add devices in the future that would measure exactly the number of kilowatt hours a customer is using.
“I would like to see us charge for whatever everybody is using,” Commissioner Pete Hanke said.
Tucker pitched an idea to use a device that would clamp onto a cord and accurately send data through Bluetooth technology to a computer, where it would be stored and a customer billed.
While all three commissioners were on board, Chair Bill Putney said the port’s power boxes need to be replaced, and it would make sense to add the devices at that time.
“You really want to do all that stuff at once rather than retrofit after new boxes are installed,” Putney said.
Tucker said the clamps would cost $279, and four would go into a power box. Pivarnik said there are about 85 boxes that need to be replaced.
“Then we would be able to get all of our electricity charges back instead of just half of it,” Tucker said.
Pivarnik agreed but said more research needs to be done. The commissioners’ approval of the utility rate is simply a “Band-Aid,” he said.
Once all the boxes are metered, “charging is the way to go,” Putney said.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].