The Oregon State Marine Board faces a problem. Though there are fewer motorized recreational boats in the state than there were a decade ago, its costs have gone up during that period. As a result it will ask the 2019 Legislature to approve a variety of increases.
The board has a sales job ahead of it. It needs to prove the increases are justified to the Legislature and the public.
The marine board, which oversees law enforcement, boater education, environmental stewardship and access to the state’s waterways for recreationists, is funded by its motorized boat registrations, a portion of Oregon fuel taxes and other fees. It receives no money from the state’s general fund.
A few changes have happened in the last 10 years. Fewer Oregonians are buying motorized boats. But the board says they and nonmotorized recreationists — kayakers, canoers and others — are using the state’s rivers and lakes more. At the same time, the cost of just about everything the board must pay for has risen.
The higher fees include a $1.45 per foot higher registration fee, a $25 higher title fee and a $10 increase for a boater education card. They’ll pay for law enforcement, education and maintenance of everything from boat ramps to bathrooms.
An open house about the proposals is set for Oct. 16 in Bend. Then comes the hard work of selling the Legislature that the need for more money is real.