310.151 Rates of pilotage; Pilotage Rate Review Committee.—
(1)(a) As used in this section, the term:
1. “Committee” means the Pilotage Rate Review Committee established under this section as part of the Board of Pilot Commissioners.
2. “Board” means the Board of Pilot Commissioners.
(b) To carry out the provisions of this section, the Pilotage Rate Review Committee is established as part of the Board of Pilot Commissioners within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The committee shall consist of the following seven members of the board: two board members who are licensed state pilots actively practicing their profession, who shall be appointed by majority vote of the licensed state pilots serving on the board; two board members who are actively involved in a professional or business capacity in the maritime industry, marine shipping industry, or commercial passenger cruise industry; one board member who is a certified public accountant with at least 5 years of experience in financial management; and two board members who are citizens of the state.
(c) Committee members shall comply with the disclosure requirements of s. 112.3143(4) if participating in any matter that would result in special private gain or loss as described in that subsection.
(d) The committee has authority to adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement provisions of this section conferring duties upon it. The department shall provide the staff required by the committee to carry out its duties under this section.
(e) All funds received pursuant to this section shall be placed in the account of the Board of Pilot Commissioners, and the Board of Pilot Commissioners shall pay for all expenses incurred pursuant to this section.
(2) Any pilot, group of pilots, or other person or group of persons whose substantial interests are directly affected by the rates established by the committee may apply to the committee for a change in rates. However, an application for a change in rates shall not be considered for any port for which rates have been changed by this committee in the 18 months preceding the filing of the application. All applications for changes in rates shall be made to the committee, in writing, pursuant to rules prescribed by the committee. In the case of an application for a rate change on behalf of a pilot or group of pilots, the application shall be accompanied by a consolidated financial statement, statement of profit or loss, and balance sheet prepared by a certified public accountant of the pilot or group of pilots and all relevant information, fiscal and otherwise, on the piloting activities within the affected port area, including financial information on all entities owned or partially owned by the pilot or group of pilots which provide pilot-related services in the affected port area. In the case of an application for a rate change filed on behalf of persons other than a pilot or group of pilots, information regarding the financial state of interested parties other than pilots shall be required only to the extent that such financial information is made relevant by the application or subsequent argument before the committee. The committee shall have the authority to set, by rule, a rate review application fee of up to $1,000, which must be submitted to the committee upon the filing of the application for a rate change.
(3) The committee shall investigate and determine whether the requested rate change will result in fair, just, and reasonable rates of pilotage pursuant to rules prescribed by the committee. In addition to publication as required by law, notice of a hearing to determine rates shall be mailed to each person who has formally requested notice of any rate change in the affected port area. The notice shall advise all interested parties that they may file an answer, an additional or alternative petition, or any other applicable pleading or response, within 30 days after the date of publication of the notice, and the notice shall specify the last date by which any such pleading must be filed. The committee may, for good cause, extend the period for responses to a petition. Multiple petitions filed in this manner do not warrant separate hearings, and these petitions shall be consolidated to the extent that it shall not be necessary to hold a separate hearing on each petition. The committee shall conclude its investigation, conduct a public hearing, and determine whether to modify the existing rates of pilotage in that port within 60 days after the filing of the completed application, except that the committee may not be required to complete a hearing for more than one port within any 60-day period. Hearings shall be held in the affected port area, unless a different location is agreed upon by all parties to the proceeding.
(4)(a) The applicant shall be given written notice, either in person or by certified mail, that the committee intends to modify the pilotage rates in that port and that the applicant may, within 21 days after receipt of the notice, request a hearing pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. Notice of the intent to modify the pilotage rates in that port shall also be published in the Florida Administrative Weekly and in a newspaper of general circulation in the affected port area and shall be mailed to any person who has formally requested notice of any rate change in the affected port area. Within 21 days after receipt or publication of notice, any person whose substantial interests will be affected by the intended committee action may request a hearing pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. If the committee concludes that the petitioner has raised a disputed issue of material fact, the committee shall designate a hearing, which shall be conducted by formal proceeding before an administrative law judge assigned by the Division of Administrative Hearings pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57(1), unless waived by all parties. If the committee concludes that the petitioner has not raised a disputed issue of material fact and does not designate the petition for hearing, that decision shall be considered final agency action for purposes of s. 120.68. The failure to request a hearing within 21 days after receipt or publication of notice shall constitute a waiver of any right to an administrative hearing and shall cause the order modifying the pilotage rates in that port to be entered. If an administrative hearing is requested pursuant to this subsection, notice of the time, date, and location of the hearing shall be published in the Florida Administrative Weekly and in a newspaper of general circulation in the affected port area and shall be mailed to the applicant and to any person who has formally requested notice of any rate change for the affected port area.
(b) In any administrative proceeding pursuant to this section, the committee’s proposed rate determination shall be immediately effective and shall not be stayed during the administrative proceeding, provided that, pending rendition of the committee’s final order, the pilot or pilots in the subject port deposit in an interest-bearing account all amounts received which represent the difference between the previous rates and the proposed rates. The pilot or pilots in the subject port shall keep an accurate accounting of all amounts deposited, specifying by whom or on whose behalf such amounts were paid, and shall produce such an accounting upon request of the committee. Upon rendition of the committee’s final order:
1. Any amounts deposited in the interest-bearing account which are sustained by the final order shall be paid over to the pilot or pilots in the subject port, including all interest accrued on such funds; and
2. Any amounts deposited which exceed the rates sustained in the committee’s final order shall be refunded, with the accrued interest, to those customers from whom the funds were collected. Any funds that are not refunded after diligent effort of the pilot or pilots to do so shall be disbursed by the pilot or pilots as the committee shall direct.
(5)(a) In determining whether the requested rate change will result in fair, just, and reasonable rates, the committee shall give primary consideration to the public interest in promoting and maintaining efficient, reliable, and safe piloting services.
(b) The committee shall also give consideration to the following factors:
1. The public interest in having qualified pilots available to respond promptly to vessels needing their service.
2. A determination of the average net income of pilots in the port, including the value of all benefits derived from service as a pilot. For the purposes of this subparagraph, “net income of pilots” refers to total pilotage fees collected in the port, minus reasonable operating expenses, divided by the number of licensed and active state pilots within the ports.
3. Reasonable operating expenses of pilots.
4. Pilotage rates in other ports.
5. The amount of time each pilot spends on actual piloting duty and the amount of time spent on other essential support services.
6. The prevailing compensation available to individuals in other maritime services of comparable professional skill and standing as that sought in pilots, it being recognized that in order to attract to the profession of piloting, and to hold the best and most qualified individuals as pilots, the overall compensation accorded pilots should be equal to or greater than that available to such individuals in comparable maritime employment.
7. The impact rate change may have in individual pilot compensation and whether such change will lead to a shortage of licensed state pilots, certificated deputy pilots, or qualified pilot applicants.
8. Projected changes in vessel traffic.
9. Cost of retirement and medical plans.
10. Physical risks inherent in piloting.
11. Special characteristics, dangers, and risks of the particular port.
12. Any other factors the committee deems relevant in determining a just and reasonable rate.
(c) The committee may take into consideration the consumer price index or any other comparable economic indicator when fixing rates of pilotage; however, because the consumer price index or such other comparable economic indicator is primarily related to net income rather than rates, the committee shall not use it as the sole factor in fixing rates of pilotage.
(6) The committee shall fix rates of pilotage pursuant to this section based upon the following vessel characteristics:
(c) Net tonnage, gross tonnage, or dead weight tonnage.
(d) Freeboard or height above the waterline.
(e) Draft or molded depth.
(f) Any combination of the vessel characteristics listed in this subsection or any other relevant vessel characteristic or characteristics.
(7) The decisions of the committee regarding rates are not appealable to the board.
History.—s. 2, ch. 75-201; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; ss. 14, 16, ch. 78-140; s. 2, ch. 81-318; s. 6, ch. 83-329; ss. 2, 3, ch. 84-185; ss. 10, 11, ch. 86-280; s. 2, ch. 89-262; s. 4, ch. 91-429; s. 351, ch. 94-119; s. 65, ch. 96-410; s. 59, ch. 98-200; s. 3, ch. 2000-356; s. 5, ch. 2010-225.