The Docks and Harbors Board is considering special or promotional moorage rates to help generate more funds during the difficult economic times, Port Director John Stone said.
The regulation change would allow for two promotional moorage rate offers this summer, similar to last year.
Public comment on the proposal is open until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, and a public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. that night in the Assembly chambers.
"Basically the purpose of this regulation change is to create a formal authorization and ability for the board to run moorage specials," Stone said.
The first promotional moorage fee being offered is for recreational boats 24 feet long or shorter. Those purchasing a $90 launch permit will be allowed to buy three months of moorage at the downtown rate and stay anywhere they want in the harbor system from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
"So you could pay the downtown rate and stay out at Statter Harbor (in Auke Bay)," he said. "The downtown rate is about half of what the Statter Harbor is. It's a pretty good deal compared to what people have had in the past."
The board is also looking at another special that would apply to people with recurring reservations at the downtown Intermediate Vessel Float. Owners of boats 65 feet or longer would receive a 20 percent discount on their moorage rate, if approved following Thursday's public hearing.
"They pay actually the highest moorage rate in the harbor system right now," Stone said.
Stone said there have been a number of factors resulting in the shrinking number of people using the harbor system, including an aging community, difficult economic times, poor weather over the past couple of summers and fee increases during the last several years.
"We have ... increased our fees quite a bit over the last five years," Stone said. "So moorage was $800 a year, say, 10 years ago. Now it's $2,000 a year. So that's a big change to people."
Traditionally many of the recreational boaters have been younger, and the aging of the community has led to fewer small boat users, Stone said. And the economic pinch isn't helping, he said.
"That's been exacerbated in the last few years," Stone said. "We had the $5 gas last summer, which made boating very expensive."
Stone said the harbor system could generate more money in the future by adding even more promotions.
"Over time I expect (the board) would look at different kinds of specials to encourage use of the harbors or to fill up vacant space," he said.
Also being considered is changing the Statter Harbor parking lot regulation by adding a $1 per hour rate. A new electronic parking meter is going to be installed that will allow people to pay per hour instead of $5 per day. The $5 rate will still be available for long-time use, as will the $75 per month permit. There are no current plans to charge at any of the other harbor parking lots.