Under law, the city cannot tax a city agency, but city officials said they probably can tax each boat owner who rents a slip at the marina. Without some sort of assessment on boats at Cabrillo Marina, some boaters and marina operators said the Harbor Department would enjoy a competitive edge over the privately operated marinas.
Tuller, the assistant city attorney who has been working with the city clerk's office on the marina tax proposal, said any tax on tenants at Cabrillo Marina would also be based on total rent paid and would be equivalent to the tax proposed for the private marina operators.
But Chaney, Flores' business aide, said a Cabrillo Marina tenants' tax would still be unfair because the Harbor Department, as operator of the marina, would avoid paying the tax.
"The tenant may have to pay, but the port wouldn't be paying a thing," Chaney said. "It creates an unfair competitive advantage for the Harbor Department."
Even so, Harbor Department officials said, they do not support any new tax on privately operated marinas or tenants of the Cabrillo Marina. Port spokeswoman Julia Nagano said the department has gone on record as opposed to the tax proposal, in part because the department would be responsible for collecting the taxes for the city.
"There is a question as to whether the manpower requirements would outweigh the amount collected," Nagano said.