Changes were discussed and implemented for the Stone Mountain Boat Dock at Cranks during a special called meeting of the Harlan Fiscal Court on Wednesday.
Slip fees were increased and hours of operation were cut to help with the county’s bleak financial outlook.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop suggested the boat dock be leased to a private company or individuals willing to keep the dock open, saving the county $170,000 to $200,000 each year.
“The issue here is with coal severance funds going down. Then you have to look at where we are spending LGEA (Local Government Economic Assistance) money and LGEA money is what is helping the dock run now. We have to use this money for the jail and the road department, so there will be very little left. It’s not a matter of if we want to do this now, we have to do this — something to cut these costs.”
Magistrate Jim Roddy said he opposed leasing the boat dock because it is the only “recreation left in that part of the county.” The lake is located in Roddy’s fourth magisterial district.
Changing hours of operation was suggested by Magistrate Delbert Stephens. Suggesting hours be reduced to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., he said this would save money on staff. He added surveillance cameras can be installed during the hours the dock is not being staffed.
“It costs anywhere from $170,000 to $200,000 to operate that dock and you will not have that money next year,” said Grieshop. “It’s not a matter of if you want to do something different — you don’t have a choice because it will close. When that money doesn’t come in — it will close.”
Magistrate David Kennedy said fiscal court has discussed the boat dock since he has been on the court. He said nothing has changed since he became a member of the court.
“We’ve thrown several options out there where the dock could be more self-supportive, but we’ve failed to act on any one of them,” said Kennedy.
Grieshop said people who have boats at the dock have expressed concerns about their property during unmanned hours.
“If we lease this thing out, we’re still going to have these employees,” said Kennedy. “They will still be working for the county. The only thing is they may not have any overtime. We’re still going to have that cost. We’ve not raised the rental costs there on the boat storage one time in the past seven years. I still think if we put enough cameras up there we can watch it well. I think the dock should be shut down a certain number of hours a day or close it one day a week.”
Stephens said 15 people with boats at the dock are “months and months past due” on slip rental fees, totaling $1,720.
“Why don’t we advertise this for lease and have a legitimate company come in and make it a business and enhance what we already have,” said Magistrate Jonathan Pope. “It would make it a lot better than it is. The county will never be able to make it what it needs to be. You could build cabins, a bait shop — a lot of things to enhance the area. We’re not ever going to do that.”
After a lengthy discussion on avenues to collect past due bills, including taking possession of property if fees are not paid within a set amount of time, the court approved increasing the slip rental fees to $50 per boat per month effective July 1 and changing the hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., also effective July 1.
Kennedy added if these changes “don’t work,” then the court will have to look at leasing the dock out.
In other action, the court approved advertising for bids to operate a concession stand at Martins Fork Lake.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, email@example.com