Friday, October 30, 2009

Paddlers ship out with new fees (Supports new duties)

Owners of rowboats, canoes, inflatable boats and kayaks are going to fork over an additional $5 beginning next year.

Because the Ohio Division of Watercraft has assumed ownership of the state's Scenic Rivers Program, the state legislature figured that paddle sports owners would foot the bill. This calculation is based on the assumption that such owners are the direct beneficiaries of the program.

In bureaucratic lingo, the additional $5 is being called the "Waterway Conservation Assessment Fee" and applies only to non-motorized vessels. Ohio has an estimated 83,000 non-motorized vessels, a figure that is growing.

The income - expected to be around $150,000 annually - will go toward management of the Ohio Water Trails and Ohio Scenic Rivers programs. It is expected that the agency will also use the money to develop and maintain boating access to owners of paddle sports vessels.

With the additional charge, the registration tax for non-motorized watercraft becomes $17 for a three-year period. The registrations for one-third of all such vessels is up every year.

Alternative registration decals will cost $22.

Not included in any of these charges is the $3 writing fee, collected by watercraft registration agents.

Fees charged to owners of motorized pleasure craft are NOT going up.

In other Ohio boating-related news, the state has experienced just eight deaths as a result of boating mishaps this year. That figure is about one-half the typical number and also represents the second lowest number of boating-related fatalities on record in Ohio.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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