At their regular city council meeting on July 7th the Depoe Bay city council discussed a resolution on their agenda establishing and publishing the Depoe Bay Harbor Fueling Services Annual Report for the Harbor Fuel Facility. During discussion it was brought up that part of the report had a recommended increase of $1.34 for diesel and gas at the fuel station in Depoe Bay harbor to offset a loss the city incurred last year of $47,330. This resolution is set to sunset after one year.
Councilor Goddard, who owns a charter vessel company, told the council that he does not want the city to run at a deficit. He told the council that he puts in about 200-gallons of gas at a time and refuels when he gets to about half the capacity of 400 gallons. He said at this rate, it would mean an additional over $200 each time he got fuel. He said it took him about 15 minutes at the fuel dock. "At that rate, it would mean the city is getting almost $1,000 an hour, it would take about 47 hours to make up that deficit." Goddard added that the city needs to do a little more pencil pushing regarding this resolution. After councilor Goddard provided his testimony to the council the Mayor stated that it was a conflict of interest and asked Mr. Goddard to declare a conflict.
Part of the issue causing the deficit is that the harbor master reported that he is spending 30% of his time at the fuel dock either pumping or maintaining the station. The assistant harbor master spends 10% of their time. The fuel dock is open for three hours a day. When there are not vessels there getting fuel the staff is doing other harbor work needed. According to councilor Jerome Grant, the city is doing this to be fiscally responsible in trying to reduce the deficit. Other council members said they were not trying to make money, just break even. The council approved the resolution to increase the harbor fuel costs with Councilor Goddard abstaining.
There were several who showed up at this week's Depoe Bay city council meeting to protest the resolution stating that there was not significant notice given to the public, and felt it should have gone to a public hearing. Terry Thompson stated that they should have been more forthcoming with the public about it. Other charter boat operators told the council that fuel is the single largest overhead they have and will be detrimental to their business, which will have a trickle down effect on all businesses in Depoe Bay. The public was also upset that this was not run by or brought up to the harbor commission. One charter boat operator said he would now have to charge a fuel fee, something that charter customers would not have to pay if they go out of Newport or Garibaldi.
Others stated that it could cause issues with boat operators getting their fuel from gas cans and bringing it down to the dock and trying to fuel their boats themselves, which could cause fuel spills. Walter Chuck said he felt that the city was price gouging during a pandemic by increasing the cost by over 60%. Some asked the council to look at other ways to reduce the deficit including using a card lock system. The council repeated that it was only for one year, to get the city out of the deficit.