At the Monday, July 12, 2021 meeting of the Ludington City Council, two votes will occur to effectively approve two costly upgrade/maintenance projects at the two city-ran marinas:  Harbor View Marina (HVM) and Ludington Municipal Marina (LMM).  

We should recall that the LMM has been operating under an 'enterprise fund' since its inception in the early 1980s.  According to the Michigan Municipal League (p. 132), a marina enterprise fund is used to record the revenues and expenses for the operation of a marina, it is "a self-supporting fund which does business with individuals and firms outside the local unit departments".  I can't help but offer the definition of self-supporting:

The problem is that the city marina has never been self-supporting in its 40 years of existence.  The state's DNR has supplied millions upon millions of dollars over those four decades to put in new facilities (like bathhouses, fish-cleaning stations, transient dock expansions etc.), dredge the marina whenever the water lowers, and other costly maintenance and improvements, the latest being to replace the six older piers with new top-of-the-line floating docks.  

The whole project is likely to cost over $3 million in total as they are set to approve replacing the easternmost pier, the "F dock' at a cost of $500,000, with another floating dock.  The   Council Packet for July 12th shows that the State DNR has already approved their half of that price in the Waterways Grant Agreement.  One can see that the DNR is staffed by corrupt officers, especially Paul Petersen and Ron Olsen, by just reading sections 8 and 9 of the agreement and realizing the reality of the situation: 

The DNR are entering into this agreement with the assumed understanding that F dock would be for the exclusive use of transient recreational watercraft and that commercial operations will not take place at F dock without prior written approval of both the City and the DNR.  The problem?  F dock has a plaque in front of it acknowledging that it's the charter boat dock, all the boats on that sign below are housed on F dock.  Charter boats are commercial operations, they are not transient recreational watercraft. 

For these facilities, there has not yet been provided a written approval by either entity for the charter boats to re-establish themselves there when the facilities are finished.  While all of the other private marinas in the area would love to house these charter boats, those charter boat captains will definitely petition for their place back on F dock because where is the private marina that will subsidize a cool half million to make a nicer dock for their business? 

Since we know the myth of the marina enterprise fund, what we have here is the city contributing $250,000 and the state contributing $250,000 to upgrade a "public" facility that primarily houses at least eight private businesses, neither of whom will contribute anything to the new floating docks, but be the sole benefactor of the subsidies.   

The stated reason for building the LMM in the first place was to provide a safe harbor of refuge for transient boats; transient boats don't stay at F dock, nor do they berth in C dock.  F dock appears to be in nice repair, one has to ask why it is receiving prioritization over other docks that have transient craft thereon.  The answer is clear once you think about it.  The LMM gets more dollars from housing charter boats than they do for seasonal or transient boaters.  

The other project is in its nascent phase, with the council choosing the engineering firm for $16,000 on a project that the DNR is slated to give the City $160,000 for.  If the project winds up costing more it will have to come from the HVM enterprise fund, but that will be unlikely to be much, since they could postpone the project for another year and get more dollars from Father DNR.  The project itself is to correct some settling primarily on the south side where there are some cracks in the pavement near the fish cleaning station.  

It's highly likely the high water issues suffered by the nearby Rath-Melendy intersection for two years was also suffered at this area to a limited extent.  It's really not that bad, nor are most of the other minor issues noted in the packet, but when the state DNR willingly picks up the bill of $160,000 why not spend the money and make some out of town contractors happy?

Look for the city council to follow the municipal marina board and unanimously approve of both measures, securing $250,000 from the state for the LMM, and spending the first part of $160,000 from the state at the HVM to bolster their "self supporting" marina enterprise funds.  Look at the state and local taxes on private marinas continue to rise supporting their totally unfair 'public' competition and their whimsical purchases.  

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I also wonder what will happen to the old F docks there. Will they have another fake auction then give them away for free like C docks last year? Or will they be sold this time? The COL should recoup something reasonable for them afterall.  Meanwhile, I'll bet that the two proposals are voted on and approved unanimously again too! Shameful spending to compete unfairly with private enterprises.

I am getting so damned tired of all the wasteful spending and backroom deals that end up gouging out our pockets trying to eliminate any money we may have been lucky enough to save by using discipline in our own spending habits. It almost seems to be a losing cause. Again, thanks X for you diligence and concern.


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