Tavares selling water taxis for much less than purchase price



TAVARES, Fla. - The city of Tavares is selling its two water taxis for thousands of dollars less than they are worth.

The boats shuttled people across Lake Dora for a couple of years before a giant sandbar made the trip impossible.

The boats never lived up to expectations.  Over the last couple of years they haven't carried a single passenger.

For nearly five years the boats have been docked on the lake, but they will soon be hauled away.

"Any boat owner knows that the best day you have is the day you buy your boat and the day you sell it," said Bill Neron with the city of Tavares.

But some residents said the sale is nothing to smile about.

"This is not a very good deal. I don't think it's a very good deal," said resident Miriam Didilio.

The city got the boats free in 2008. They spent more than $140,000 making them sea worthy. 

They were just sold for $75,000.

Officials offer taxpayers no apologies.

"A $65,000 loss -- you don't consider it bad?" Channel 9 reporter Berndt Petersen asked Neron.

" Well, if you bought a new boat seven years ago and you appraised it -- basically we got very close to the appraised value of the boats," said Neron.

Officials said they had to sell because of Mother Nature.  The water level on the lake has fallen over the years and the sand bar that has formed blocks the taxi route to Mount Dora. 

The city sold the vessels to a boat broker who gave them the only offer on the boats.

The operator of a dinner cruise company in Tampa complained to Channel 9 that taxpayers were shortchanged because the city did not solicit multiple bids.

"You have a lot of people that come in and say, 'I would have paid more.'  But when it comes time to sign a check, it's a different story," said Neron.

The money from the sale will go into a fund for future city projects.