The Board of Harbor Commissioners for Portland Harbor is appealing a court ruling that it improperly raised pilot fees.

“We feel that we did what we should do, and we think the court made a mistake,” Board Chairman Tom Dobbins said in an interview Monday.

An appeal to Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court was filed June 6 in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Board members voted in November to increase the minimum rate to pilot large vessels in and out of Portland Harbor to $1,077, almost 50 percent more than the 2016 rate.

The November vote overruled a previous increase to a $1,200 minimum fee the board approved in May at the request of Portland Pilots Inc., the private company that guides ships into port.

That fee increase was challenged in court by Bay Ferries Ltd., the Canadian company that operates The Cat ferry between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The minimum fee was $709 before the May increase, which would have increased the ferry’s cost by $96,000 a year and would have constituted a financial hardship, the company said in court filings. It argued the board did not follow legal procedure when approving the fee requested by Portland Pilots.

In his ruling June 1, Superior Court Justice Lance Walker said the board had not examined the Pilots’ financial records to see if a rate hike was justified. The board’s comparison of pilot rates in Portland compared to other New England harbors was also flawed, he said. Walker vacated the board’s November decision and sent the pilot fee back to the board for reconsideration.

The board didn’t feel it needed to see the Pilots’ income and expenses to determine the new rate was appropriate, Dobbins said Monday.

“We haven’t looked at their books yet, but we hadn’t planned to look at their income. Most pilotage rate-setting authorities do not look at the books,” he said. “We felt we were in the right.”

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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