Huntington residents now must pay a $40 seasonal fee for mooring boats in local waters after the town board narrowly approved a measure to charge the fee.
Town residents had been able to moor their boats in town waters with a free permit. Nonresidents will continue to pay a $200 fee.
Revenue from the new fee, which is effective immediately, is to help cover the cost of harbor maintenance and cleanup, including removing wrecked vessels and building a boat owner database, Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said at the June 18 board meeting where the measure passed in a 3-2 vote.
Lupinacci and board members Ed Smyth and Eugene Cook voted in favor of the fee. Board members Mark Cuthbertson and Joan Cergol voted against it.
Huntington's waters have an "extremely high volume of boating traffic," Lupinacci said. "We’re preventing irresponsible boat ownership and irresponsible boating." The fees generated will be deposited into the board of trustees account.
Cergol said she wanted to delay any mooring fee changes because the town does not currently have a director of maritime services.
“I am unable to support maritime code amendments or mooring fees without the benefit of a full-time Director of Maritime Services who can guide the Town Board by fully engaging the boating/waterfront community for consensus on policy considerations that impact them," Cergol said in an emailed statement. "At present I do not see clear consensus, and being in mid-boating season, I see no rush to impose such policy changes." Cuthbertson could not be reached for comment.
The department has been led by acting director Dom Spada since March.
Lupinacci noted in a news release that the town spent more than $50,000 last year removing abandoned boats.
“As a waterfront community, our residents deserve to have our waterways, a precious natural resource, treated with proper respect for both the current and future generations," he said in the release. “Taxpayers should not be on the hook for the consequences of irresponsible boat ownership.”
Town officials plan to build a database of abandoned boats in Huntington waters to "hold violators responsible for creating hazardous boating safety conditions," according to the news release.
The new law also increases required insurance limits for vessel wreck removal and pollution mitigation, and lowers to $40 from $200 the cost of transient commercial mooring permits for businesses and commercial entities that lease or own land in the town.