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City to charge boaters by slip size at Erie Basin Marina

The city is changing it plans and will charge slip fees at the Erie Basin Marina based on slip size, not boat size, city officials said Tuesday.

The change will reduce fees by as much as 7 percent in some cases, said Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak.

The change is being made at the request of the marina slip holders association, which nonetheless remains unhappy that slip fees have been on the rise as the city tries to make up for 14 years of stagnant fees, and make the marina self-sustaining.

Under the new fee schedule, the fee for a 20-foot slip for a non-resident will increase to $1,150 in 2016 from $1,050 in 2015. There will be annual increases of $50 to $100 each year through 2020, when the fee would be $1,450.

The resident fee for a 20-foot slip would be somewhat less costly but would see a bigger jump, going to $900 in 2016 from $750 in 2015. There would be annual increases up to $100 a year through 2020, when the fee would be $1,225.

The fees would be more for 30-foot and 38-foot slips, and there would be an as-yet-to-be-determined per-foot surcharge for boats larger than the slips.

The fees are expected to be approved by the Common Council next week. All fees will be set as the maximum that can be charged. If the marina operator, Smith Boys, determines in any year that it is not necessary to charge the maximum, then a lower fee can be set, Stepniak said.

The slip holders association points out that the fee increases have been substantial since 2014, when it was $825 for a non-resident and $750 for a resident to rent a 20-foot slip. But Stepniak responds the fees had not increased in 14 years. When you do an analysis including the 14 years when there was no increase, the average increase is 4 percent annually, he said.

About 70 percent of slip holders are non-residents, and the other 30 percent are Buffalo residents, Stepniak said. There are about 350 boat slips in the marina.