City Schedules Briefing on Dock Tax Implementation





TIME:               4:00 – 5:30 p.m.


WHEN:             TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19


WHERE:           3300 NEWPORT BLVD.

TIME:               6:00 – 7:30 p.m.


Residential dock owners recently received a letter from the city notifying us of the procedures to implement the Dock Tax.  The letter announced two public meetings where City Manager Dave Kiff will present the city’s plan to collect the largest tax increase in Newport’s history.  As a reminder the Dock Tax passed on a 5-1 vote;


Councilman Rush Hill (check out his statement prior to the vote here)

Councilman Mike Henn

Councilman Steve Rosansky

Councilman Keith Curry

Councilwoman Nancy Gardner

Councilwoman Leslie Daigle

Councilman Ed Selich


A couple of key questions to ask City Manager Dave Kiff at the Open House meetings;


1.      City Manager Dave Kiff has stated the massive Dock Tax levy will be earmarked for Harbor improvements.  What has the sales tax on the value of our Docks been used for since 1978 when the state turned over management of the tidelands to the City?

2.      By law the city’s tidelands fund must be used for only maintenance and improvements to the tidelands (harbor and beaches).  The city has collected over $10 million annually from tidelands taxes on various businesses and residential rents.  Where has the tens of millions gone since 1978 when the city was granted tidelands management by the state?

3.      Last summer the city manager, city attorney, and the secret Harbor Fees committee said they had to impose the Dock Tax due to a new state law – S.B. 152.  Then it was revealed by the legislation’s author that Newport Harbor was not affected by the legislation.  How can we trust the city government that will use any reason to raise taxes – even if the law they cite is inapplicable?

4.      Kiff says the 1978 and subsequent 1995 amended “Beacon Bay” legislation that granted the tidelands from the state to the city requires “fair market value” rent be charged harbor-wide on all tidelands users.  Even a casual reading of the bill indicates fair market rent must be charged on the residential parcels comprising ONLY the Beacon Bay housing development.  Once again … when the bureaucrats have an opportunity to interpret a law to raise taxes – they will.

5.      For years we have been charged a $100 pier inspection fee, probably a violation of the law because most of us have never had an inspection.  What Harbor improvements have been developed with our inspection fee?  Has this fee for service been illegally collected?

6.      Councilman Mike Henn and City Manager Kiff have said they will create a “sequestered fund” [wrong term – but you get the idea] of our Dock Tax.  This fund would be adopted by the city and begin receiving Dock Tax funds in 2013.  How is this fund different from the existing Tidelands fund that the city has been raiding since 1978 to pay for salaries, benefits, and the black hole of city budgeting?

7.      The Dock Tax permit runs for 12 months at such time the city can confiscate your dock for numerous reasons.  (failure to pay the Dock Tax, or maintain the dock).  The Dock Tax permit has stripped you of all property rights to your dock.  Does the city intend to confiscate all residential docks for the purpose of generating a new revenue stream to pay for salaries and benefits?

8.      The city is now your landlord that you pay rent to for use of the tidelands.  As your landlord will they pay to dredge your dock area so that your boat no longer bottoms-out at low tide?  Many boats bottom out at low tide (especially in the Newport Island area).  Your landlord (city) is responsible for a functioning (dredged) area so that you may use the tidelands you are now renting from them.

9.      In addition to your Dock Tax the city acknowledges you may have a  Possessory Interest Tax obligation, typically equivalent to your property tax rate.  This would mean TRIPLE taxation; 1) you already pay property tax on the value of your dock 2) now you will pay the new Dock Tax 3) potentially a new Possessory Interest Tax.

10.  It’s estimated that the roughly 900 residential docks will generate around $800,000 per year in new taxes.  The Harbor Resources Manager makes $164,000 in salaries and benefits.  He manages the Harbor Resources Supervisor that makes $114,688 in salary and benefits.  The Harbor Resources Supervisor supervises the Harbor Resources Specialist and Harbor Resources Tech II —  they make $188,000 in salaries and benefits.  To recap, the Dock Tax will raise $800,000 per year and pay 4 bureaucrats $467,000, leaving $333,000 for Harbor projects.  Seems like the Harbor loses and the bureaucrats win.


Let me recap the new Permit & Dock Tax;

  • You build and maintain your dock.
  • You pay the utilities
  • You pay property tax + Dock Tax + Possessory Interest tax (maybe)
  • You can rent out your dock if you pay $1.25 per square foot
  • You probably can’t use your dock at low tide because they have neglected the Harbor for 40 years
  • City has stripped you of all property right to your dock
  • City gives you a one year permit
  • City charges you a Dock Tax (they say it’s rent)
  • City can confiscate your dock
  • City can force you to remove all fixtures from your dock
  • City can force you to quitclaim your dock

And the politicians and bureaucrats wonder why we are angry.


Please attend the meetings on February 14th and 19th.  Forward this email to your friends that are tired of government intruding in our lives.



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