Toledo City Council Tuesday will take up the issue of who will manage the Skyway Marina on the city's east side and the boat docks along both sides of the Maumee River.
The Bell administration wants council to approve a three-year contract with Brenner 75 Marine LLC for $124,000 annually.
Councilman Rob Ludeman, who will preside over a committee hearing at 1:30 p.m. on the request, said council authorized the Finkbeiner administration last year to have Brenner run the marina but the company did not do so. Instead, Jim Ragan, a former city employee who had taught sailing at Walbridge Park for six years and ran a safe-boating classes for the state of Ohio, was hired by then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner to run the facility.
Mr. Ragan said at the time, "Mayor Finkbeiner had put out a press release that if anyone out there had their home foreclosed on or was out of work and looking for a job, to come to his office, and I qualified."
The $6.3 million Skyway Marina, which is part of the city's planned Marina District in East Toledo, has 77 docks, fuel pumps, showers, and a convenience store. Mr. Finkbeiner introduced Mr. Ragan as the new dockmaster May 30, 2009, during a ceremonial news conference about the development's new roadway and boat dock.
Councilman D. Michael Collins said yesterday he is leery about continuing business as usual at the marina.
"We lost about $42,000 last year at that marina," he said. "If we sat there in a real world and we created the marina, wouldn't we expect someone to pay us to run a business rather than we pay someone to run it?"
He said it would be better for taxpayers to have the facility and the boat docks rented out to a business.
"If they want to have it, they should pay the city of Toledo, and it's their job to make a profit," Mr. Collins said.
Mr. Ragan said the revenues last year were greater than labor costs for the marina but did not exceed total operating expenses for the operation, which include utility costs he was not privy to.
"When I did begin this, it was understood it was a zero-budget situation," he said. "I wasn't even given coins to make change for a can of pop - that came out of my own pocket."
Mr. Ludeman said there is a level of confusion over the contract and hopes today's meeting answers the unanswered questions.
"Council a couple years ago passed authorization for the mayor to negotiate with Brenner to take over management, and apparently Carty thought it could be done more cheaply last year and Jim Ragan ran it pretty frugally," Mr. Ludeman said. "There is no one running it now, and the boating season is right upon us."
In November, 2008, the public marina in the planned Marina District received recognition from a national boating organization, the States Organization for Boating Access. It gave its Outstanding Marinas and Harbors Project Award to the watercraft division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for its role in developing the Skyway Marina on the Maumee River.
The project's budget included a $326,500 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service boating infrastructure grant that the state watercraft agency administered.
The marina, formerly known as the Glass City Municipal Marina, opened in June, 2008. It shares its quarters with a marine passenger terminal developed by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.
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