How launch ramp fees are spent

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2007

Do you know where your trailer launch ramp fee goes? If you think the city is pooling that money and using it to repair launch ramps and provide for garbage collection and lighting, you are only fractionally correct. Your fee is actually placed directly into the Harbors Enterprise Fund, where it is used for every operational expense that is incurred by docks and harbors, even the harbors that do not have a launch ramp. This means you are helping to pay the salary of the employees who work at the harbors, even though you might not even see them or need their services.

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Ramp improvements are funded by state and federal grants, not by the Harbors Enterprise Fund. Here are the projected "costs" assigned to the boat launch ramps last year: personnel, $52,183; fleet, $1,394.

Routine Maintenance: $116,461.

Office Operations: $23,660.

Field Operations: $31,440.

A few years ago, there was no annual fee to use the launch ramps. Then, it was $30, then $75, then $90, then $125 next year. Adding to the frustration is seeing the Don Statter Boat Harbor being "improved" a few years ago and actually losing trailer parking spots, with the bonus of having to pay $5 for the parking spots that remain.

I can only assume Docks & Harbors feels good about gouging recreational boaters to pay for other users' costs because we don't have as much political clout or don't complain as loudly. Perhaps it is time we start complaining.

James McKnight


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