Oregon Marine Board votes to hike motor boat fees

Cites drop in fuel tax revenue, boat registrations

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - The Oregon State Marine Board voted to approve higher motorboat fees during their quarterly board meeting Wednesday in Prineville.

The board discussed the agency's proposed 2015-2017 budget and also approved two boating facility grant increase requests and elected new board officers.

Staff briefed the board on budget preparation and the public's participation in the process. During May and June, staff met with the public throughout the state and outlined the Marine Board's financial picture.

In the past five years, the agency has experienced a 17 percent decline in fuel tax revenue and a 7 percent drop in motorboat registrations, but conversely, an increase in boater activity on Oregon's waterways.

During these discussions, staff presented the cost-savings actions that OSMB has implemented in the past two biennia, including streamlining internal operations and the elimination of program positions.

Members of the public made suggestions. A summary of these ideas were provided to the Marine Board for consideration.

The board deliberated on an increase to the "flat per-foot" charge and a variety of "variable fees" based on length while taking into account the impact on boaters and cost comparisons with other Western states for motorboat registrations.

The board approved moving forward on a legislative concept with a fee proposal to increase the flat fee from $3 per foot to $5 per foot for all motorboats. The board also approved raising the fees for other boating-related services.

"It has been 12 years since the last fee increase and with boat fuel use continuing to decline, to maintain services to boaters, this increase is necessary," said Marine Board Director Scott Brewen.

"We've eliminated marketing campaigns and 90 percent of our print publication budget, plus 2 1/4 positions in the last four years. We've also streamlined operations and created efficiencies so it's easier and faster for boaters to complete transactions and get out on the water."

Brewen added, "Any additional cuts will have to be from boating safety services or boating facility grants, which will negatively impact boaters."

During the meeting, the board also considered grant funding increases for two existing grants due to the increased costs in materials for the Roger's Landing boarding float replacement and the City of St. Helens Courthouse Docks upgrade.

The board approved an additional $75,000 in state boater funds to Yamhill County to reflect the increase in the price of aluminum required for the boarding float construction for Roger's Landing. The board also approved an additional $37,742 in state boater funds for increased costs to upgrade the existing utilities serving the pumpout and dump station and transient tie-up, and power expansion for the power pedestals and self-service kiosk.

In final business, the board elected new officers. For the remainder of the year through next June, Jen Tonneson, of Scappoose, will serve as Marine Board Chair and Jean Quinsey, of Lake Oswego, as Vice-Chair.

To view the Marine Board's staff report, visit http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/Pages/admin/members.aspx.

To learn more about the agency's budget discussions or strategic planning teams and boating blog, visit http://www.oregon.gov/OSMB/pages/admin/strategicplan.aspx

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