Marina on track to run surplus in second year

February 4, 2015

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Philpott Marina is expected to break even in its first full fiscal year, and next year, it should begin to build a moderate surplus, according to a county official. 

Henry County Parks and Recreation Director Roger Adams on Monday gave the Henry County Board of Supervisors an update on activities at the marina, which opened March 30. Adams spoke during a board planning session.

“We should be right at the break-even point financially at the end of this fiscal year, which ends in June,” he said. “Starting next year, we should start building a moderate surplus ... due to an increase in visitors and a reduction in expenses related to start-up.” 

In its first year, Adams said, the marina’s operating budget had to absorb about $20,000 in one-time start-up costs, such as mandated regulatory safety signs and life preservers.

“I would say we had a very successful first year of operation for the marina,” Adams said. “The tourism folks are very excited about marketing the lake and marketing the marina to bring more folks into our community to spend their dollars here. ... We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from the community.” 

When asked by Henry County Administrator Tim Hall if the county should have done anything differently when creating the marina, Adams said that based on the facility’s popularity, the county perhaps should have added more boat rental slips and more parking.

Currently, Adams said, all 42 boat slips at the marina have been rented, and there is a waiting list of about 35 people. The lease agreements run from March 1 through Feb. 28, Adams said, and renewal agreements were mailed in January. 

Adams said he anticipates that about 35 to 38 people will renew their slip leases, and the empty slips will immediately be filled by those on the waiting list.

Slip rentals cost $1,200 per year if paid in one lump sum in advance and $1,300 if paid over the first three months of the contract. 

The marina store has been successful as well, Adams said. Over the July 4 weekend, he said, the marina sold 1,397 gallons of fuel, and over Labor Day weekend, it sold 1,081 gallons of fuel.

On weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day, he said, the store averaged sales of $267 per day, not including fuel. 

Since the store opened, he said, staff has made adjustments to the items it offers based on customer requests. The store now carries a wider array of bass fishing supplies and some camping supplies as a result, along with snacks, drinks and bait.

“(The store was) extremely busy during our first year during boating, fishing and camping season, and I expect us to be even busier this year,” Adams said. “A lot of folks did not find out about us until mid- to late summer.” 

Adams also mentioned the Philpott campground near the marina, which was reserved 30 out of the 32 weekends it was open over the past year. Nearly all available weekends in 2015 already have been reserved, he added.

Each of the 10 spaces at the campground has water, power and sewer connections, and it is the only campground on the lake that has all three of those utility hookups. 

Additionally, Adams said, a nearly 60-year-old restroom/shower building near the campground has been demolished, and its replacement, which will feature more modern design and handicap access, is scheduled to be completed this month.

Overall, Adams said, he has heard virtually nothing but positive comments from marina visitors, many of whom have told him that it is the nicest marina they have ever seen. 

“When the marina was being constructed ... there was a lot of skepticism,” said supervisors Chairman H.G. Vaughn. “But since it opened, I have not heard one negative comment.” 


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