Naples taxpayers could pay back some of the debt from dock rebuild

Joseph Cranney ,; 239-213-6035 Published 4:31 p.m. ET March 15, 2017 | Updated 5:15 p.m. ET March 15, 2017

Naples taxpayers could cover some costs of rebuilding the city dock after the Naples City Council agreed Wednesday to loan $6.5 million from the city’s investment pool to pay for the project.

The council unanimously approved the 20-year internal loan, with annual $325,000 payments from the dock’s cash reserves, plus a low-rate interest that could be covered by taxpayers if the dock can’t afford it.

The council had been hoping to avoid using taxpayer money to subsidize the dock, which operates its $1.4 million budget separately from the city’s $43 million general fund.

City Manager Bill Moss told the council the subsidy is fair because the dock is widely used by the public. A 2015 city survey found 56 percent of residents use the dock, Moss said.

“We thought that recognizes the importance of the city dock,” he said. “It’s a public facility, even though the space is leased to vessel owners.”

Unlike most other city funds, the dock covers its expenses with its own revenues from fuel money and boat rent. City Harbormaster Roger Jacobsen said the dock had about $900,000 in cash at the end of the last fiscal year.