Marina Operator Hopes to Increase Fees

By Mike Lednovich

The operator of the Fernandina Beach city-owned marina is proposing rate increases of approximately 22% in order to generate revenues to offset rising operational expenses.

The rate increases – which would bring in an additional $169,000 yearly – were discussed at the Marina Advisory Board meeting Monday. Oasis Marinas, which runs the city marina, will pitch the increases to the city commission for approval on Aug. 1.

The rate increases would impact three segments of customers at the marina — commercial operators such as charter and tour boats, luxury super yachts and contractors who service and repair boats at the marina.

“We’ve prepared these rates based on market research as a way to drive revenue to the marina,” said Cathy Chapman, marina manager. The commercial operator rate would be increased to $30 per foot per month and would bring in an estimated $56,000. The current rate is $25 per foot.

“With the level of charters we have we’re having extra trash (removal) and there is a lot of enhanced marina usage,” Chapman said. “These are annual slip holders, separating commercial operators from recreational users.”

Oasis is introducing a tiered-rate dock fee structure for super yachts based on the length of the yacht. “This is something really see at any marina that takes boats up to 250 feet,” Chapman. “This is a rate that increases incrementally by 25 cents per foot by each bracket.” The super yacht fee increase would generate an additional $98,000, Chapman said.

Contractors who repair and maintain boats will be charged $20 per day. That would bring in another $15,000 annually. “They (contractors) are using our water, our electricity and using our facility to conduct their business,” Chapman said. “To offset some of that it’s common to charge a small fee.” Contractors will be required to sign in at the marina office in order to service boats.

“This (the rate hikes) will offset costs for bathroom cleaning and trash pickups,” Chapman said. “It also improves our security by identifying who is at the marina.”

Chapman said the rates are justified by the city marina being uniquely positioned on Amelia Island.

“We’re in a deep water inlet maintained by the submarine base, we’re close to the fishing grounds and ideally situated near downtown Fernandina,” Chapman said. “According to our market study, we’re right in the same ballpark of other marinas.”

Captain Allen Mills, who has run Amelia Anglers Outfitters since 1978, said Oasis could cut operating costs in other areas instead of hiking docking fees. Mills said Oasis could reduce $60,000 it spends on marketing the marina by passing that cost on to a website company that handles dock reservations.

Several Marina Advisory Board Members objected to the 20% increase, especially those impacting year-round charter operators. The board did not vote on whether to endorse the plan to the city commission.