May 27, 2020
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Bangor explores privatizing the docks

BANGOR, Maine — City leaders are exploring possible interest in turning over management of the municipal dock on the Penobscot River to a private company.

City staff and members of the city’s harbor committee discussed privatizing all or a portion of the dock at a meeting Thursday, but City Engineer Jim Ring said talks are still preliminary.

“We’ve reached out to several companies and have even sat down with a couple, but there are no proposals yet,” he said Friday.

In order to resolve a municipal revenue shortfall for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, a number of city budget line items were altered. Among them was the city’s dock operation, Ring said.

So, instead of staffing five separate municipal docks, Bangor plans to operate only Dock 3, which accommodates heavy vessels, and Dock 5, which is the city’s other large-vessel dock.

Docks 1, 2 and 4, which serve mostly transient and local vessels, would remain closed, saving the city approximately $35,000.

The city recently learned that American Cruise Lines, one of the dock’s biggest commercial customers, was scaling back its operations in Bangor, which further reduced the incentive to put docks in the water.

Some councilors have repeatedly brought up the idea of exploring more public-private partnerships when it comes to certain municipal services.

“The idea is that if an outside company can take over operation and retain as many of the services the city has, we should explore that,” Ring said. “One of the best examples of private partnerships with the city is our municipal solid waste collection.”

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