Overdue Boat Slip Rental Fees Puts City In Hole - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/03/03

Overdue Boat Slip Rental Fees Puts City In Hole

The rental fees boat owners pay to tie up in the Gulfport small craft harbor are based on the size of their boats. Ward 6 councilman Chuck Teston says over the last several years outstanding fees have added up.

"We're about $78,000 in arrears of uncollectible, active funds that are open that haven't been paid for the boat slips, and I just think we should do a better job as a city of collecting those funds," Teston says.

But neither Teston nor councilman Billy Hewes could say who's responsible for doing that.

"The buck stops with the mayor and if you can't find out who's supposed to collect it, you ought to ask the mayor and/or the chief administrative officer," Hewes says.

Those two men were unavailable, but we did talk to the office manager of the city's general finance department. She says the city can't collect most of the delinquent slip fees because they're 12 to 15 years old, and the boat owners are gone. As far as the rest of the money, the city's trying to get it by taking boat owners who don't pay up to court.

"We need every dollar we can get in this city," Hewes says.

Teston agrees, and says privatizing the harbor or hiring a private company to run it may be the answer.

"I think privatization is a good thing for the city council and the mayor to take a look at. These are all ideas but I think they're ideas that are worth pursuing," says Teston.

"If anybody can afford a boat in the harbor they ought to be able to afford their slip fees down there. I think if they're 60 days or more past due, then they need to be evicted, and get somebody in there who will pay those fees in a timely manner," says Hewes.

He says he's also a believer in privatizing and he says several city departments, including the harbor, should be looked at individually.

byMarcia Hill

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