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Harbors board confirms launch ramp permit policy

One user fee can be used to cover multiple trailers

Posted: December 21, 2012 - 1:05am

The board of directors of Juneau Docks and Harbors met Thursday night for their last meeting of 2012, confirming a policy under which multiple launch ramp permits may be issued to harbor users without requiring them to pay a fee per boat trailer.

The question of whether the user fee should be assessed per trailer or whether it should be assessed for each user regardless of how many trailers for which a permit is being sought came before the board last month, when Port Director Carl Uchytil informed board members that permits have not been issued consistently due to apparent ambiguity in the policy.

Uchytil’s interpretation of the statute at last month’s meeting was “one trailer, one permit,” but not all board members agreed, and the matter was referred back to the Docks and Harbors Operations Committee.

The policy was agreed on as being one fee per user at last Tuesday’s committee meeting, with Harbormaster Dwight Tajon sending a memorandum to the Docks and Harbors board the next day noting the process that will be required “for users requesting multiple launch ramp permits after receiving the user fee payment.”

“All trailer registrations must be presented at time of purchase, all names and addresses must match,” Tajon wrote. “The trailer license number of each permit issued will be written on the permit. The customer must make certain that the permit is affixed to the corresponding trailer if multiple permits are requested.”

Board Chairman Kevin Jardell clarified with Tajon what the policy is for users who want a permit for just one trailer.

“If you were purchasing a single launch ramp permit, and I’m running down Egan and I remember that I need it, and I pull in and get it without my registration, I’m still going to be able to get my single permit,” said Jardell. “And if you need multiple permits, that’s when you’re going to have to demonstrate ownership and a little more information.”

“Yes, that’s correct,” Tajon replied.

Board member Mike Williams expressed concern that some users will try to abuse the system, such as by providing incorrect trailer license plate numbers.

“I actually believe, to get one permit, you should have to show proof of that registration for that trailer,” said Williams. “If you want a second one, you should have to show proof for the second one, or the third one.”

But Jardell said he believes the policy will work for the large majority of harbor users.

“It was important that we not make it more difficult for the vast majority of people who are complying and doing things right, and targeting the 1 percent or 2 percent and imposing an extra burden on everyone else just doesn’t seem right to me,” Jardell said. “So I think they’ve come up with a compromise here that makes sense to me.”

Williams agreed with Jardell that harbor staff will be able to deal with any issues that come up as they implement the policy, and on a motion by Greg Busch, the board approved the permit policy as presented by Tajon.

A list of eight items for which Docks and Harbors is seeking local marine passenger fee proceeds in fiscal year 2014 was also approved by the board. The requests total more than $2.7 million and include funding for planned projects such as downtown public restrooms near the Visitor’s Center and a passenger-for-hire facility at Don D. Statter Harbor.

“I think it’s a good list,” Williams said. “I’d recommend that we forward this off to the Assembly.”

The board approved Williams’ motion without objection.

The board also voted to do away with a speed zone outside Douglas Harbor that limits vessels to 5 knots. Uchytil recommended the change back in August, telling members of the board that the installation of a floating breakwater at the harbor has made the speed limit superfluous.

The speed zone removal is subject to approval by the Borough Assembly, which is scheduled to review the proposed regulation change at its Jan. 7 meeting.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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