Public meetings slated for proposed small boat harbor/boating facility fee hikes

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today file photo Boats rest in their slips in 2016 at Honokohau Harbor.

Big Island residents will have the opportunity next week to weigh in on double-digit increases in fees at small boat harbors and other facilities.

The amendments to fees and rules are an effort to align small boat harbor and boating facility fees with current market rates. Proposed fee hikes include those for moorings, utilities, facility usage, storage, ramp and commercial permit fees. More than 10,000 boaters were informed of the proposed increases and asked for comments and feedback, according to a state Department of Land and Natural Resources press release.

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It’s been almost 25 years since the state last increased fees for utilities and facilities at state small boat harbors and almost seven years for mooring fees, the DLNR said.

During the public meetings people can present their views either orally or in writing. Big Island meetings are scheduled for:

• 6-8 p.m. Monday (March 4) in the Kealakehe High School cafeteria.

• 5-7 p.m. Thursday (March 7) in the Hilo State Office Building Conference Room.

“The proposal is an effort by (the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation) to align small boat harbor and boating facility fees to reflect current market rates,” the DLNR press release stated.

Two local captains interviewed in December had concerns not as much with the fees themselves, but changes in how the fees will be determined, as well as other issues at boat harbors.

Capt. Bill Murtaugh, who operates charters from Keauhou Bay Small Boat Harbor, said the new rules will charge fees based not on the length of the boats as currently calculated but by the length of the mooring area itself. This is especially difficult for Murtaugh, who recently increased the length of his mooring for safety reasons as outlined in a recent Army Corps of Engineers revamping at Keauhou.

Capt. Jeff Rogers, a charter captain based at Honokohau Harbor, said there should be improvements at the harbor, such as bringing back the coin-operated electrical boxes, before fees are raised. He said wealthier boat owners on the other side of the harbor paid to have their own electric poles installed and can run electricity right into their boats while he has to lug a generator to the harbor to recharge his battery.

The DLNR does have that project on its deferred maintenance list, saying that the upgrade and replacement of existing electrical lines, conduits, lighting, circuit breakers and new power usage monitoring system for all slips in the inner harbor would cost an estimated $4.3 million.

Rogers would like to see improvements precede fee hikes.

The proposed rule amendments can be viewed online at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/draft-rules. The public also can view them in person from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at any DOBOR district office.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

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Harbor fee increases proposed

CURRENT, PROPOSED

Mooring fee (per foot)

Honokohau

Catwalk $7.79, $10.00

Tahiti Moor* $4.17, $6.00

Kailua-Kona

Tahiti Moor $3.87, $6.00

Kawaihae, north

Tahiti Moor $3.58, $5.00

Kawaihae, south

Catwalk $5.09, $10.00

Tahiti Moor $1.75, $6.00

Wailoa

Catwalk $7.25, $9.00

Tahiti Moor $3.58, $5.00

Not listed

Catwalk $10.00

Tahiti Moor $6.00

Offshore moor/anchoring

On state buoy, anchor, cable $1.52-$2.56 $5.00

On permittee’s buoy or anchor $1.03-$2.04 $3.00

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Annual boat ramp decal $40.00 $75.00

*Tahiti moor is mooring the boat perpendicular to the dock, rather than parallel

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