Langley marina harbormaster seeks hefty raise

FREELAND — By all accounts, Port of South Whidbey harbormaster Rick Brewer has done an outstanding job since he was hired to run the Langley marina in January.

Now he wants to be rewarded for his efforts, despite the fact the marina is still operating in the red. He also wants help, since the intern program for the summer (paid by a county grant) has expired.

In his 2010 budget request, Brewer has asked for a 27-percent increase in his pay, from $41,600 to $53,040.

Port staff has recommended a 10-percent hike, to $45,7600.

“We view the lower increase as a stair step which will be reexamined next year,” said port manager Ed Field. “We understand the need to cut the budget, but we don’t want to jeopardize the good presence Rick has established at the marina.”

Brewer has overseen repairs and upgrades of vital marina infrastructure, made sure the fire systems work, organized dock parties, improved communications and helped increasing numbers of boaters have a safe, fun time when they visited.

The facility has seen capacity crowds all summer, and Brewer is working hard to generate more business, and more revenue, in the spring and fall “shoulder” seasons.

While taking a critical look at the preliminary budget on Wednesday, commissioners expressed some concerns.

Port Commissioner Rolf Seitle, while saying he appreciated all the work Brewer has done, said a raise may be inappropriate while marina expenses continue to outstrip revenues.

Since the port assumed ownership and control of Langley Marina on Jan. 1, maintenance-and-operating expenses are estimated to be $134,000 this year.

But revenue is projected to be $127,000, and the marina is expected to be profitable in 2010.

While under the stewardship of the city of Langley, the marina rarely generated revenues above $80,000 annually.

Port Commissioner Geoff Tapert said the board will most likely approve Brewer’s request in November, but at the lower amount.

“Rolf and I agree that we need an ongoing, sustainable revenue stream from the marina,” Tapert said. “However, our thinking now is that getting a part-time assistant harbormaster at

$15 an hour makes more sense over the long term.”

Brewer told commissioners he had been hired at 40 hours per week, but routinely spent up to 60 hours improving the level of service available to the boating public.

He noted that a successful dock party on Aug. 22 featuring the Langley Middle School Jazz Band was conducted at no cost to the port and, after checking with police, he said no noise complaints had been filed.

“I have increased efforts to make the pier and marina user-friendly to the general public,” Brewer said. “We have increased restroom and shower maintenance, repair and continuous operation of showers while promoting and working to increase traffic by hosting boating club events. The word is spreading throughout Puget Sound.”

Brewer added that traffic and revenues beat expectations by 50 percent, slip reservation requests are being taken as late as Nov. 15 and he’s seen an increased interest in winter moorage.

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