Port Huron looks to privatize recreation center and marinas

PORT HURON — The city of Port Huron projects it will overspend its budget by $42 million over the next five years if it doesn’t act to improve its finances, according to The Port Huron Times Herald.

The city has been providing an annual subsidy of $350,000 to its ice arena and recreation center, McMorran Place, according to city attorney John Livesay. The facility was built in the 1950s and is operated by the McMorran Authority. The agreement to operate the facility is set to expire in 2008, so the city is looking into whether a private-sector firm can manage the facility more efficiently. Officials would like the center to operate without a subsidy.

City council members in November advised the city manager to prepare a request for proposals to operate the facility. The general manager of the facility stated that he had been approached by two companies to manage the center, the Times Herald reported.

The city is also looking at contracting out the management of its River Street Marina and selling its Water Street Marina according to the Times-Herald. The city already has a buyer for the former and is looking for proposals to operate the latter. The city’s financial statements show that the city’s marinas and docks cost nearly $1 million a year to operate, but have revenues of only $561,000.

References: The Port Huron Times Herald, "City, residents face tough budget questions," Sept. 5, 2007 The Port Huron Times Herald, "City: Marina needs better marketing," Dec. 4, 2007