To the Editor:
I sent this letter to the Oak Bluffs selectmen.
The board has laid off two town employees, reduced two others to part-time, is facing a $1.5 million shortfall for the budget beginning July 1, even without the projected five percent reduction in state aid, and has proposed a seven percent increase in taxes.
In spite of the dire financial condition, the board has continued to permit the harbormaster, a town employee, to provide the East Chop Beach Club with what has amounted to a $15,000 subsidy by issuing to it 20 private mooring permits for $3,000, which moorings the club then rented to its members for the 2009 season for $18,000, pocketing the $15,000 profit.
Since these permits expired on December 31, the selectmen should direct the harbormaster to notify the East Chop Beach Club that the permits will not be renewed for the 2010 season, that as required by the harbor regulations, the mooring tackle must be removed or transferred to the town to be managed as seasonal rentals, and that if the names and addresses of those club members whose boats occupied the 20 moorings last season are provided to the harbormaster, he will send them applications for seasonal rentals, at $1,500 each. The harbor revenue will thereby increase by $30,000, for the 2010 season. The club has been the only permit holder that has had more than one permit, has rented its moorings to others, has permitted boats it does not own to occupy the moorings, and has refused to provide the name and addresses of the owners of the boats of record that occupied the moorings and to describe the boats of record so that this information can be provided to the assessor for tax purposes. Each of these five violations of the town’s harbor bylaws, regulations, rules, and conditions of the permits are grounds for not renewing a permit.
The selectmen should end this preferential treatment given to a private club and require the club’s members to rent the 20 moorings directly from the town for $1,500 each, a rate determined last fall by the harbormaster to be reasonable.
Joseph S. Vera
Oak Bluffs and Cambridge