Village benefits from increased revenue
By Michael Turton
The Village of Cold Spring’s need for increased revenue has been evident at almost every meeting of the Village Board of late. The evidence usually takes the form of oft-repeated statements such as, “We don’t have the money,” or “It isn’t in the budget.” While at this stage it is a minuscule source of funds, the Cold Spring dock is one area where the village is realizing increased revenue – with potential for even more growth in the future.
At the Sept. 30 (Monday) meeting of the Village Board, trustees approved two new docking permits for cruise boats coming into Cold Spring in October – the Evening Star on Oct. 10, and the River Rose on Oct. 14. The fee for tying up at the village dock is $2 per linear foot. The bigger the boat, the more money the village takes in. At 46 feet and 64 feet respectively, the latest two boats approved for docking will add $220 to village coffers. That’s small potatoes in a budget that tops $2.6 million, but the amount of money coming in from such fees seems to be on the rise.
According to village records, only three boats applied to tie up at the main dock in 2012 – Clearwater, River Rose and Seastreak. River Rose paid three visits while Seastreak docked a dozen times. Clearwater docked twice, but as a non-profit it pays no dockage fees. All three returned in 2013 – joined by Pride of the Hudson, Estuary Steward, Trinity Cruises and Entertainment Cruises. Estimated revenue from dockage fees in 2012 was $4,144. Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell, who handles docking applications on behalf of the village, estimates that in 2013, that total will increase to $7,600.
The Estuary Steward takes passengers on cruises to Bannerman’s Island and originally booked 44 dates in 2013 but its visits had to be put on hold. The flat-bottomed boat experienced problems attempting to dock here. Campbell said that the captain hopes to make adjustments that will enable The Estuary Steward to offer excursions out of Cold Spring.
The increased boat traffic has also spawned an increase in calls to the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce. “People are calling … to find out when the fall (color) peak is, and asking how to use the trolley from the dock,” chamber president Debbi Milner said. “Our waterfront is a treasure that should be shared, particularly with increased access from the waterside. The chamber would like to see more visitors arriving by boat, spending money in our restaurants and shops – without increasing the demand for parking.”
Local resident John Landolfi uses the dock for fishing and crabbing and sees it differently. “What really concerns me is the Clearwater being here for four days,” he said. “We (local tax payers) paid for the dock and should be able to use it without interference.” He also questions the value of attracting more passenger boats. “We don’t get one tax dollar back from the County.” Local municipalities have long complained that they receive none of the sales tax that Putnam County collects from area businesses.
Michael Armstrong chairs the Special Board for the Comprehensive Plan and Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. He thinks there are benefits to the village from increased use of the dock. “The Comprehensive Plan focuses … on building village revenues while shifting the load from property taxes, which unchecked could destroy what’s best about Cold Spring,” Armstrong told The Paper. “Getting more (revenue) from things like dockage fees just means we are taking our infrastructure challenges seriously, while protecting our core values.”
Photos by M. Turton