Plan calls for smaller hike in Maryland boater fees

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will propose amendments to House Bill 1307 to substantially reduce the proposed cost of registering a boat in Maryland, the department announced.

The department introduced the legislation to address the state’s boating infrastructure needs. The original proposal would have replaced the flat $24 boat registration fee paid every two years with fees ranging from $50 to $700, depending on the size of the boat.

Under the proposed changes, it would cost $25 every two years to register boats under 16 feet in Maryland. It would cost $50 every two years to register boats of 16 to less than 21 feet; $75 every two years to register boats of 21 to less than 32 feet; $100 every two years to register boats of 32 to less than 45 feet; $200 every two years to register boats of 45 to 65 feet; and $300 every two years to register boats of more than 65 feet.

The bill also includes a voluntary non-motorized decal for boats such as kayaks and canoes for $12 every two years. The proposal eliminates the second tier of phased-in registration increases, which means the new costs would start in 2013.

In addition, amendments would increase the one-time boat title price to $35, as well as some other costs to boat dealers.

“We appreciate the department taking into consideration the concerns of the Maryland boating industry by significantly reducing the proposed boat registration costs to a level that is acceptable to our boat dealers and marinas,” Marine Trades Association of Maryland executive director Susan Zellers said in a statement.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources substantially reduced the amount of the proposed cost structure after public outcry against the original proposal.

“We hope these proposed fee reductions strike a better balance among the competing factors of affordability to boaters, recession impacts on boat sales and the growing unmet needs to maintain our boating assets,” department secretary John Griffin said in a statement. “With some of the most magnificent waterways in the country, we must work together to keep boating safe and enjoyable.”

The cost of registering a boat in Maryland has not increased since 1983.

Since 1965, the state’s 5 percent excise tax on vessels has served as the major source of funding for the Waterway Improvement Fund, the state’s program for financing projects and activities that promote, develop and maintain Maryland’s waterways for the boating public.

The Department of Natural Resources needs $41 million annually to maintain boating services and operations. This includes dredging and maintaining 265 channels, more than 400 public boating facilities, 3,600 buoys and marine police operations. The department is also responsible for removing hazardous abandoned boats and debris, funding marine sewage pumpout stations, local fire and rescue boats and providing icebreaking services for boaters when necessary.

Fund revenue has declined by 50 percent, to $15 million because of a decrease in boat sales, leaving Maryland unable to pay for these projects. The department said it was only able to fund 11 percent of the state and local grant requests for FY 2012.


10 comments on “Plan calls for smaller hike in Maryland boater fees

  1. Jim Bricker

    A typical Dermocratic trick. Propose really ridiculous fees and then propose lower fees and make everbody think they won.
    Try cutting spending on welfare and food stamps and goverment employees.

  2. John Kaiser

    Sounds like a reasonable plan. Does this mean there is no increase to the 5% use tax? That would be excellent!

  3. Drew Fleming

    Great job MTAM for negotiating lower-than-proposed fees that Maryland boaters can live with!

  4. Dave Trostle

    Thank goodness for a small victory. Now the luxury tax is next. The hearing in next Tuesday at 1:00 if you already didn’t know.

    Read the last line in the above post about a decline in revenue of 50% because of a decrease in boat sales. What do they think is going to happen if they institute a luxury tax? We need to get this across to the legislatures. Please continue to call, write and get as many of your friends and collegues involved as possible.

  5. Graham Norbury

    Thanks mainly to the mild winter and early spring, Maryland’s boating industry appears to be showing the first positive signs of life since 2007. I wonder whether DNR and the Maryland state legislature has considered what these fee hikes are likely to do to this fragile recovery, especially in the face of rapidly rising fuel costs?

  6. Bill Cox

    BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST…I closed a boat deal last Saturday with a Pennsylvania customer. He was aware of the impending rate hike, so we collected NO tax and NO registration fees… as he will pay in PA and enjoy MUCH LOWER registration fees and have complete LEGAL reciprocity. Maryland tries to pinch more registration fees and it will cost them more in the long run. I know of another non-resident that paid MARYLAND tax and pays MARYLAND registration on THREE boats. He’s transferring the registrations to his resident state. WOW! Four “LOST SALES” in just three weeks at one dealer! Read’em and weep DNR…MANY of your customers have options that will cost us all in the long run!!!

  7. Ryan Towers

    I know a few people that live in Maryland register their boat in Delaware and have the trailer taged in Maryland, Delaware dosent care if you are a resident or not.

  8. Tom M.

    Yea, I’m still not happy with this. While this sound reasonable, I still see no need to increase fees when what the state should be trying to do is increase boating revenue by promoting boating, not discouraging it.

    And that 5% state sales tax is already too much; I felt raped after purchasing my boat in South Carolina and keeping it here in Maryland. In SC, they have a cap on their sales tax of something like $250.00. I sent thousands to the state!

    Oh and if you USCG document your boat like I have, you still have to pay MD for a stupid sticker to put on your hull. Why??

  9. Searay400EC

    This proposal of lower fees is to get the fees voted in. Once they have it in place then they can start moving them up. In our house, when funds are low (oh, thanks MD/fuel prices/taxes) we don’t continue to spend money we don’t have. If the state and the fed can increase our taxes b/c they need money we should be able to tell the people we work for we taking an increase in our pay to off-set the other increases.

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