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Liveaboard fee hike is arbitrary

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, January 21, 2005

Thanks to everyone who came to the Docks and Harbors Finance Committee meeting Tuesday night, and an even bigger thank you to everyone who spoke on proposed fee increases.

As a Harris Harbor liveaboard, I'm especially interested in the residence surcharge, or liveaboard fee. If adopted, this fee would increase from $39 to $94 per month.

When I, and others, spoke to a general lack of services, and asked what the 100 percent-plus increase will pay for, we were told rent hikes would be used to support the status quo. Sounds great.

If adopted, I'll pay $94 per month for the same lack of services I now enjoy for $39 a month. Like I said, sounds great.

Much has been made of the wear and tear liveaboards place on our harbors, though as many pointed out, the rate hike is not based on an accurate assessment of our water, sewer or solid waste service use.

There is no differentiation for large liveaboards versus small ones, or for fishing boats that may use far more water than I could ever fit on my 28-foot boat.

And while everyone acknowledges the full-size refrigerators and water heaters common in harbor dumpsters do not come from liveaboards, the board makes little effort to secure access, and instead proposes liveaboards provide an even higher subsidy for folks who refuse to pay for the cost of their own waste disposal.

Based neither in reality nor fact, the proposed rate increase is arbitrary at best. At worst, it's a thinly veiled attempt to gouge a captive audience in the hope of driving liveaboards out of Juneau altogether. We are just as vital and valid a community as any other, do not account for most of the derelict and abandoned boats, and, if anything, deserve a hearty thank you for keeping an eye on all the other boats in our harbors. We are good neighbors.

The next meeting is Feb.17, and I encourage everyone with any interest in how our small boat harbors are managed to come, listen and voice ideas, opinions and concerns. It's easy to believe the decision has already been made, but it hasn't, or at least shouldn't have been. Our voices do matter. Please come and speak yours. And tell your neighbors.

Nonna Shtipelman

Juneau



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