Sunday, March 18, 2012
Drowning Boaters with Weighty Fees
Boaters, anglers and working watermen will soon be hit with a more than tripling of boat registration fees.
The House Environmental Matters Committee is hearing an Administration-sponsored bill today that drastically increases the current $24 bi-annual flat fee to $50 -$350, depending on the boat length.
The recreational boating industry has been hit hard in the recession, and boat sales have plummeted. The DNR says the money in the Waterway Improvement Fund, which is paid for by the boat excise tax, has been depleted. This fund is used for dredging and maintaining channels.
But, O'Malley has pilfered $40 million dollars from the fund over the years to help balance the budget. Some of the funds have been replaced with bonds, but that means the state is using its credit card instead of paying cash for the waterway projects.
Boaters who fill up their tanks dockside are paying the gas tax on each gallon they pump. That tax goes to mass transit and roads in the state, but should be used for channel improvements.
There's a misconception that boaters will somehow absorb the fees, but this proposal will result in diminished returns with fewer boat slip rentals, fewer boat sales, and less maintenance and repair work for our working marinas.
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