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This lawmaker bought a luxury houseboat in 2004. He never paid a dime in property taxes.

State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan failed to pay property taxes on his $350,000 houseboat for more than a decade, denying school districts and local governments thousands of dollars each year, according to public records and interviews with officials.

Morgan, a Republican from Richmond, confirmed through a spokeswoman that he paid sales tax on the luxury boat when he bought it in 2004 but has never paid property taxes on it.

The freshman state lawmaker said he could not speak with a Herald-Leader reporter about the boat without first getting permission from House GOP leaders, who allowed him to answer questions through Daisy Olivo, a spokeswoman for House Republicans.

Morgan registered his boat with the U.S. Coast Guard after buying it and believed that as a result of doing so, he did not owe any further taxes on it, Olivo said.

“He is unaware of any outstanding taxes owed,” Olivo said.

Morgan’s understanding is incorrect, according to state and local officials.

Officials in Pulaski County, where the boat is docked on Lake Cumberland, said the 2016 property tax bill on the boat would have been either $2,350 or $4,487, depending on its documentation status with the Coast Guard. Those figures were calculated using local tax rates and the $350,000 value of the boat listed in a court document.

Morgan’s boat has been docked at a Pulaski County marina since 2014, so he should have paid property taxes in the county in 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to the Pulaski County clerk’s office.

WesleyMorgan

The state, the county school system, local services such as the library, as well as the city of Burnside, would have shared the money.

If Morgan did not pay taxes on the boat going back more than a decade, he ultimately could face a bill totaling tens of thousands of dollars because of added penalties and interest, said Tim Popplewell, the property valuation administrator in Russell County, who deals with houseboat taxes.

“He’s gonna get a big tax bill,” Popplewell said. “You’re gonna get upwards of $75,000 in a hurry.”

Popplewell said he has heard the claim a few times that documenting a houseboat with the Coast Guard excuses the owner from paying taxes.

That’s not the case, and it strains credulity that Morgan — a businessman who owns four liquor stores — would believe it, Popplewell said.

“I think that is a lame excuse that some people use,” he said.

Morgan has been the subject of controversy since joining the legislature in January because of proposed laws he filed to benefit his business and an arrest for illegally transporting alcohol as he moved products from one of his stores to another.

State law at the time barred liquor store owners from taking alcohol across county lines without a transporter’s license, a law designed to combat bootlegging. The legislature later changed the law and a judge dismissed the charge against Morgan, saying the statute was unconstitutional even before the change.

Officials said houseboat owners must declare their boat for tax purposes one of two ways in Kentucky.

One is to file a tangible tax return with the property valuation administrator in the county where the boat is docked, or with the Kentucky Department of Revenue. That method is for boats that have been registered with the Coast Guard.

The advantage of doing that is that there is a sizable state tax break on such “documented” boats. The state tax rate on tangible property is 45 cents per $100 valuation, but it’s only 1.5 cents per $100 on documented houseboats. Counties, schools and other local taxing districts can levy much higher tax rates on documented boats.

If the houseboat is not documented with the Coast Guard, the owner should get a title for it at the county clerk’s office, just as for other types of boats, according to the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

Records show Morgan did not go either route.

Morgan’s boat was not on Pulaski County’s certified personal property tax roll in 2015, 2016 or 2017, when a separate court record says it was docked at Lee’s Ford Marina Resort. That means he did not file a tangible tax return in those years.

In addition, there’s no record that he documented the boat with the Coast Guard in those years.

A Coast Guard database of documented boats current as of early July included an entry for the name and identification number of Morgan’s boat, but listed it as “case pending.”

Rodney G. Davis, a Richmond attorney who represents Morgan in a lawsuit involving the boat, said Thursday that a request to document the vessel with the Coast Guard is pending.

On the other front, Morgan did not obtain a title on the boat until July 17, 13 years after he bought it, according to state Transportation Cabinet records.

The title issued to Morgan in July said it was a first-time title. That means there would not have been information in the system to generate a property tax bill for Morgan, according to the Pulaski County clerk’s office.

The newspaper was not able to confirm whether Morgan docked the boat in other counties earlier and if so when, leaving no way to use local tax rates to determine the total amount of taxes Wesley would have owed on his boat from earlier years.

But with the boat now in the system, the Department of Revenue will be able to calculate how much Morgan owes in omitted taxes, penalties and interest, Popplewell said.

“And they won’t back off,” Popplewell said.

The department can’t comment on individual taxpayers because of confidentiality rules, said Glenn Waldrop, a spokesman for the department.

Morgan said in his application for the title that he bought the boat in 2004. He listed the purchase price as $525,000.

The manufacturer was Sharpe Houseboats in Somerset, a one-time industry leader that later went out of business.

The 112-foot long boat reportedly was a showpiece, featured in promotional efforts by the company.

Morgan said in a separate affidavit that Sharpe Houseboats did not complete the registration process on the boat. Still, he was able to obtain a title, and could have done so earlier, local officials said.

Morgan has been involved in litigation over the boat in Pulaski County.

Morgan sued Lee’s Ford in 2016, alleging that the marina had illegally placed a lien on the boat and chained it to the dock.

Morgan had an agreement to sell the boat at the time, according to a court record. He asked a judge to force the marina to release the boat.

Lee’s Ford owner J.D. Hamilton argued in response that Morgan had not paid slip-rental fees and a commission that was due because he had listed his boat with Hamilton to sell, but then sold it privately.

Morgan struck a deal to sell the boat, which he moved to Lee’s Ford in 2014, for $350,000, Hamilton said. That sale was rescinded during the dispute over control of the boat.

Hamilton said in a court document that when he told Morgan he owed rental fees and a commission, Morgan said, “I don’t give a f— what you do. You go get a lawyer.”

Morgan recently posted a bond of $162,444 — twice what Lee’s Ford’s attorney, John S. Gillum, calculated Morgan could owe in moorage fees if he loses the case.

Hamilton released the boat and Morgan moved it to another marina.


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Boatsetter buys boat-sharing rival Boatbound, announces funding to …

South Florida is already one of the world’s great boating capitals. Now the region can also claim to be a boat-sharing industry leader, as more people seek out accessible ways to get out on the water and more boat owners oblige by turning their pleasure crafts into money makers.

Boatsetter, a peer-to-peer marketplace for boat rentals, has acquired its Seattle-based rival Boatbound, powering up the South Florida startup’s presence throughout the United States. The Aventura-based company also announced that it has raised an additional $4.75 million in funding, on top of the $13 million announced in December, to fund its international expansion.

Like others in the boat-sharing economy, Boatsetter attempts to make the boat rental experience as seamless as booking a room on Airbnb by connecting people seeking rentals with boat owners looking to monetize the time their boats aren’t used. But Boatsetter differentiates itself by giving its users access to a large network of licensed captains as well as a growing roster of high-end boat rentals for yachting, cruising, fishing or sailing, 24/7 customer support and insurance coverage for renters, boat owners and captains.

“This acquisition now makes us the No. 1 peer-to-peer boat rental community in the United States hands down,” said Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO and co-founder of Boatsetter, who wouldn’t disclose terms of the deal. “It means about 5,000 quality vessels ready to be rented, it brings us 1,500 U.S. coastguard licensed captains, it will mean about 10,000 transactions between the companies in 2017 and it brings us 300 locations.”

Baumgarten said the acquisition particularly expands Boatsetter’s inventory in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, DC.


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South Florida boat-sharing startup swallows up big US rival, plans global expansion

South Florida is already one of the world’s great boating capitals. Now the region can also claim to be a boat-sharing industry leader, as more people seek out accessible ways to get out on the water and more boat owners oblige by turning their pleasure crafts into money makers.

Boatsetter, a peer-to-peer marketplace for boat rentals, has acquired its Seattle-based rival Boatbound, powering up the South Florida startup’s presence throughout the United States. The Aventura-based company also announced that it has raised an additional $4.75 million in funding, on top of the $13 million announced in December, to fund its international expansion.

Like others in the boat-sharing economy, Boatsetter attempts to make the boat rental experience as seamless as booking a room on Airbnb by connecting people seeking rentals with boat owners looking to monetize the time their boats aren’t used. But Boatsetter differentiates itself by giving its users access to a large network of licensed captains as well as a growing roster of high-end boat rentals for yachting, cruising, fishing or sailing, 24/7 customer support and insurance coverage for renters, boat owners and captains.

“This acquisition now makes us the No. 1 peer-to-peer boat rental community in the United States hands down,” said Jaclyn Baumgarten, CEO and co-founder of Boatsetter, who wouldn’t disclose terms of the deal. “It means about 5,000 quality vessels ready to be rented, it brings us 1,500 U.S. coastguard licensed captains, it will mean about 10,000 transactions between the companies in 2017 and it brings us 300 locations.”

Baumgarten said the acquisition particularly expands Boatsetter’s inventory in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, DC.


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Sunrise Mountain Sports To Close

Posted: Thursday, August 17, 2017 12:00 am

Sunrise Mountain Sports To Close

By Jeff Garberson

The Independent

Livermore ’s Sunrise Mountain Sports, which has guided and supplied Tri-Valley outdoor sports enthusiasts for more than four decades, will close its doors later this year.

Kim Grandfield, the store’s founder and co-owner, said that he regrets closing, but the store is no longer profitable and its continued operation cannot be justified.

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      Thursday, August 17, 2017 12:00 am.


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      Boatel Coming Soon to Kent Narrows

      CHESTER — Kent Narrows Marine will open Phase 1 of a state-of-the-art boatel this fall.

      A heated indoor boat storage facility that can accommodate up to 200 boats, the boatel will be located at Kent Narrows near the Piney Narrows Yacht Haven.

      Boatel storage provides boat owners a worry-free way to enjoy boating with the elimination of boat ramp drama and exposure to external elements when the boat isn’t in use. By using the latest BoatCloud StackTrack phone app, a customer can schedule their launch well in advance to ensure their boat will be in the water and ready for a fun day of boating.

      Kent Narrows Marine is owned and managed by local residents and businessmen; Jody Schulz, Fisherman’s Inn and Crab Deck restaurants, Rob Marsh, Wye River Marine Boat Sales, and Jeff Kogok, the owner of the Severna Park Tap House restaurant.

      “With the Kent Narrows as one of the best boating destinations on the Chesapeake Bay, we are excited to offer this new type of boating opportunity to the area,” Marsh said. “This boatel will be a positive contribution to many other local businesses here in Queen Anne’s County along with creating new job opportunities and expanding the commercial tax base.”

      Kent Narrows Marine will be a full-service operation including all aspects of marine repair and maintenance along with a full concierge service providing food and beverage, boat rentals and trailer rentals. Future developments are to include a restaurant, a convenience/marine store, and opportunities for other retail and commercial tenants.

      “The support from the local community and an extremely helpful staff at the Queen Anne’s County planning office has been instrumental in making this a reality,” Schulz said.

      Shore United Bank is financing the Kent Narrows Marine project.

      “Being able to offer this service in our area is huge for the boating community,” Robin O’Brien, vice president and commercial banking officer at Shore United Bank, said. “We are very excited to be a part of something so impactful to our community and our local economy.”

      Kent Narrows Marine will be providing multiple high skilled job opportunities for forklift operators, marine technicians, dock hands and office personnel. The grand opening for the boatel is scheduled for Nov. 1, 2017. For more information, visit www.kentnarrowsmarine.com.


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      Gunnar Olson covers city government, public safety and business for the Faribault Daily News. Reach him at (507) 333-3128, at golson@faribault.com, or follow him on Twitter @fdnGunnar.


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      Boat retailers, marina cashing in on more owners

      Boat sales in the United States and in North Carolina are up, thanks to the economy and disposable income.

      NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Investing in a boat is on an upswing and local businesses are feeling the wake.

      In 2016, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported a more than 6 percent surge in powerboat sales, equating to an estimated 250,000 boats sold.

      The association reported an even more substantial growth rate in powerboat, engine and trailer sales in North Carolina, which has seen a 9.4-percent uptick since 2014 and $634.6 million in sales — placing it sixth in the country.

      David Floyd, president of Atlantic Marine in Wilmington, said a strong economy and recreational confidence in Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington has produced “phenomenal” sales for his company in 2017.

      “We have some models that are sold out until after the year,” he said.

      Jodi Knopf, general manager of Saltwater Marine on Carolina Beach Road, said they have been stocking more boats through the year. Talking with customers, she said they attribute the higher interest in buying to Wilmington’s growing population and more disposable income.

      “Every situation is obviously different, but when you get back into that financial comfort zone, people are more likely to explore buying a boat,” she said. “It is a luxury.”

      Floyd said his marina in Wrightsville Beach is also seeing unprecedented interest from boat owners.

      “We have a waiting list for storage space,” he said. “We typically have one, but never to the extent it is currently. The biggest deterrent to buying right now just might be (the lack of) storage space.”

      The Port City Marina, which sits along the Cape Fear River, has only been in operation for two years, but has registered a similar show of interest.

      Unlike like marinas that have a waiting list, Manager Pete Werling said the marina has been able to accommodate boaters because their slips aren’t owned but rented.

      “We have seen an uptick in slip rentals and just boating traffic in the river in general,” he said.

      He didn’t have answers for why more people are invested in boats, but did say he’s seen more baby boomers purchase them to live aboard them and travel area waters.

      Floyd said one of the biggest motivations behind the upward trend is the universal appeal of a boat for the family.

      “They just want to have some family time,” he said. “The boating industry involves recreation the whole family can take part in.”

      Reporter Hunter Ingram can be recahed at 910-343-2327 or Hunter.Ingram@StarNewsOnline.com.


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      Boatel Coming Soon to Kent Narrows | Spotlight | stardem.com

      CHESTER — Kent Narrows Marine will open Phase 1 of a state-of-the-art boatel this fall.

      A heated indoor boat storage facility that can accommodate up to 200 boats, the boatel will be located at Kent Narrows near the Piney Narrows Yacht Haven.

      Boatel storage provides boat owners a worry-free way to enjoy boating with the elimination of boat ramp drama and exposure to external elements when the boat isn’t in use. By using the latest BoatCloud StackTrack phone app, a customer can schedule their launch well in advance to ensure their boat will be in the water and ready for a fun day of boating.

      Kent Narrows Marine is owned and managed by local residents and businessmen; Jody Schulz, Fisherman’s Inn and Crab Deck restaurants, Rob Marsh, Wye River Marine Boat Sales, and Jeff Kogok, the owner of the Severna Park Tap House restaurant.

      “With the Kent Narrows as one of the best boating destinations on the Chesapeake Bay, we are excited to offer this new type of boating opportunity to the area,” Marsh said. “This boatel will be a positive contribution to many other local businesses here in Queen Anne’s County along with creating new job opportunities and expanding the commercial tax base.”

      Kent Narrows Marine will be a full-service operation including all aspects of marine repair and maintenance along with a full concierge service providing food and beverage, boat rentals and trailer rentals. Future developments are to include a restaurant, a convenience/marine store, and opportunities for other retail and commercial tenants.

      “The support from the local community and an extremely helpful staff at the Queen Anne’s County planning office has been instrumental in making this a reality,” Schulz said.

      Shore United Bank is financing the Kent Narrows Marine project.

      “Being able to offer this service in our area is huge for the boating community,” Robin O’Brien, vice president and commercial banking officer at Shore United Bank, said. “We are very excited to be a part of something so impactful to our community and our local economy.”

      Kent Narrows Marine will be providing multiple high skilled job opportunities for forklift operators, marine technicians, dock hands and office personnel. The grand opening for the boatel is scheduled for Nov. 1, 2017. For more information, visit www.kentnarrowsmarine.com.


      Similar news:

      Boatel Coming Soon to Kent Narrows

      CHESTER — Kent Narrows Marine will open Phase 1 of a state-of-the-art boatel this fall.

      A heated indoor boat storage facility that can accommodate up to 200 boats, the boatel will be located at Kent Narrows near the Piney Narrows Yacht Haven.

      Boatel storage provides boat owners a worry-free way to enjoy boating with the elimination of boat ramp drama and exposure to external elements when the boat isn’t in use. By using the latest BoatCloud StackTrack phone app, a customer can schedule their launch well in advance to ensure their boat will be in the water and ready for a fun day of boating.

      Kent Narrows Marine is owned and managed by local residents and businessmen; Jody Schulz, Fisherman’s Inn and Crab Deck restaurants, Rob Marsh, Wye River Marine Boat Sales, and Jeff Kogok, the owner of the Severna Park Tap House restaurant.

      “With the Kent Narrows as one of the best boating destinations on the Chesapeake Bay, we are excited to offer this new type of boating opportunity to the area,” Marsh said. “This boatel will be a positive contribution to many other local businesses here in Queen Anne’s County along with creating new job opportunities and expanding the commercial tax base.”

      Kent Narrows Marine will be a full-service operation including all aspects of marine repair and maintenance along with a full concierge service providing food and beverage, boat rentals and trailer rentals. Future developments are to include a restaurant, a convenience/marine store, and opportunities for other retail and commercial tenants.

      “The support from the local community and an extremely helpful staff at the Queen Anne’s County planning office has been instrumental in making this a reality,” Schulz said.

      Shore United Bank is financing the Kent Narrows Marine project.

      “Being able to offer this service in our area is huge for the boating community,” Robin O’Brien, vice president and commercial banking officer at Shore United Bank, said. “We are very excited to be a part of something so impactful to our community and our local economy.”

      Kent Narrows Marine will be providing multiple high skilled job opportunities for forklift operators, marine technicians, dock hands and office personnel. The grand opening for the boatel is scheduled for Nov. 1, 2017. For more information, visit www.kentnarrowsmarine.com.


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