Hingham’s boaters will see some minor changes in 2012, most notably with an online program for mooring permits and a new dinghy dock at the Town Pier.
According to Hingham Harbormaster Ken Corson, the new online program will allow mooring applications to be renewed and processed online.
Customers who use the online program will be charged an additional $2.50 for a convenience fee. If fees are paid directly to the town manually, no fee will be required.
The program will allow for improved communication between the assessor, tax collector, and harbormaster for excise tax collection, allow weekend mooring rentals to be reserved and paid online, and also allow an e-mail option to enable the harbormaster to better communicate with permit holders and applicants.
It will take the harbormaster’s office out of the stone age, Corson joked to selectmen, as previously all the permits were filed on a spreadsheet.
Hingham harbor officials have been working on collecting mooring fees for the past few years; however, they've had difficulties ascertaining exactly how many moorings are in the harbor.
Corson believes there are 1,300 moorings and 950 permits were issued last year. Although that’s a 73 percent collection rate, Corson said that, “there’s a lot of boats out there that haven’t applied and received a permit.”
Additionally, the harbor will have a new dinghy dock at the Town Pier by next boating season.
The dock will be able to accommodate approximately 10 dinghies for access to the Inner Harbor Mooring Field, and currently there are eight people on the waiting list.
Corson estimates that the fee for those spots will be approximately $100-$300. The fee is more than a regular mooring fee, but is justified because it includes a slip, Corson said.
The dinghies were gifted to the town from the Coast Guard, and minor repair work was completed in-house.
Although the town did not pay for the dinghies, which would typically cost around $10,000, selectmen requested at their meeting last week that the harbormaster’s office come up with a replacement plan.
As such, the cost for mooring on the dock may go up to account for the dinghies eventual replacement in a couple of years.
“If you could come up with a replacement plan, what will be the maintenance over the life and what will it cost in the end to buy that by however many years it will take…see what the number is,” Selectman Laura Burns said. “The fee is for the use of this asset, and I would like to think we could be able to replace it if necessary.”