Contact:Austin Hacker

Comer: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Appears to be Levying Inconsistent and Exorbitant Fees Against Marina Owners

Reintroduces the MARINA Act to bring much needed transparency and security for Kentucky marina owners

WASHINGTON – Congressman James Comer (R-Ky.) introduced the Maintaining Access to Recreational Industry and Necessary Adjustments (MARINA) Act today. In recent years, communities that rely on tourism in Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District have seen the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) recklessly wield their authority to charge administrative fees for improvement projects and events located on property leased by local marina businesses.

“Today, I am proud to reintroduce the MARINA Act. Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District has the largest number of marinas in the state, and each provides critical economic opportunities for our local communities. Struggling marinas are now confronting an unchecked Army Corps, which appears to be levying inconsistent and exorbitant fees against marina owners without sufficient justification or transparency. Unexpected fees can cripple these small businesses, and I have made it a priority to challenge the Corps to provide explanations for their unclear fee policies. As Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, I understand the need to secure transparency and stability for marina owners and ensure all fees incurred on private businesses are calculated consistently and properly,” said Congressman James Comer.

The MARINA Act recognizes the role locally owned marinas have in fulfilling the Corps’ congressionally mandated mission of enhancing recreational opportunities by creating a standardized framework for calculating administrative fees and capping the amount of sales on items with a low profit margin that can be used to determine a marina operator’s annual rent to the Corps. The legislation establishes that sales of food, beverages, fuel, boats, motors, and boat lifts must be capped at one percent for calculating rental payments. In addition, the bill defines when administrative fees may be charged, ensures they are for non-routine Corps District functions, and extends initial lease terms to 50 years and renewals to 25 years. 
In February 2021, Congressman Comer highlighted the Corps’ lack of transparency and requested documents from the Corps regarding their process for calculating administrative fees across all Corps Districts to determine whether marina businesses were fully informed and not unfairly charged. 
In May 2022, Congressman Comer emphasized that questions remain about the Corps’ fee policies by requesting the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study examining these administrative fee practices to ensure all fees are being calculated fairly.
Read bill text here.