The Oregon State Marine Board announced last week its plan to ask state representatives for an increase in motorized boat registration fees as well as an increase in a variety of other boating services throughout the state.
In an attempt to combat declining revenue from boat registrations, the Marine Board will ask that the new rates jump from $4.50 a foot to $5.95 a foot, and that new titles and title transfer fees increase from $50 to $75, effective January 2020. In addition, replacement boater education cards will go from $8 to $16 and new boater education cards from $10 to $20.
According to a press release from the Marine Board, the boating service fees have remained the same for nearly two decades. In 2015, the agency had anticipated a decline of 5 percent in boat registrations and thought the current rate of $4.50 would be enough for the Marine Board to continue providing services for the next six years.
In reality, boat registrations went down further than expected by 10 percent. A decrease in their gas tax also contributed to their overall lower revenue. Ashley Massey, a spokesman from the Marine Board, said the increases are necessary in order for the agency to continue providing optimal services and funding for marine law enforcement and facility grants.
Funds from the Marine Board include payments to about 32 county Sheriff’s Offices’ marine patrol programs as well as to the Oregon State Police, which helps patrol waters and enforce boaters are following marine laws and rules. The funds are also used in supporting facility grants throughout the state.
In addition to the increase, the Marine Board is also asking for approval on a new waterway access permit targeted toward users with non-motorized boats. The permit would cost $5 a week, $17 a year or $30 for two years and would require all boats 10 feet or longer to carry the permit when the boats are in use. Boats with valid registration decals and children under 14 years old are exempted. Permits are transferable to other non-motorized boats. Paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing are all considered non-motorized boating activities that would fall under the new permit.
“Every six years our agency does a boating facility survey that gets feedback from boaters throughout the state on where they would like to see improvement,” said Massey. “We learned that facilities wanted improved parking and better boat launching areas.”
According to Massey, the revenue collected from the permit would be used to support these boating facilities with their improvement projects as well as help increase public access to waterways. Some of the funds will also be used to develop safety education courses and buy boating equipment.
The new permit will replace the current Aquatic Invasive Species permit, which currently cost $5 a year and is a required on all non-motorized boats 10 feet long or longer. It is transferable to other boats owned by permit holders.
According to their press release, the same amount of money will still go into the AIS program, which is co-managed with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The program conducts boat inspections throughout the state to check for the possible transfer of invasive species to Oregon’s waterways.
The Marine Board will also ask that the state require all boat-rental business operating in Oregon to register their company with the board. Massey said basic information including their name, location, phone number and types of boats they have will be needed in their registration.
“The idea is to get a sense of who is out there renting boats,” said Massey. We want to be able to provide them with safety information and education to be able to pass along to their customers and reduce accidents and injuries.”
If passed, the Marine Board will have the chance to write up rules and frequencies on how often boat-rental companies will have to register. Failure to register would result in a Class B violation of $265. Currently, boat-rental businesses do qualify for registration discounts if they pay a $90 fee every two years plus $15 per boat.
Massey said the Marine Board will be holding four open houses throughout Oregon to ask for the public’s input on their proposed concepts. They will also be taking questions and concerns community members have at each meeting. According to Massey, a meeting is scheduled to take place in Coos Bay on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. but as of right now a location has not been secured. She added the Marine Board will keep its website updated and the location will be revealed as soon as they find a space.
The Marine Board will present its concepts and proposed fee increases in the 2019 Legislative Session in Salem. The agency must get approval to enact any sort of increase or new fee from the state before charging the public.