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Marine Board fee plan lacks details

Put your canoe in a lake up in the Cascades, and the staff of Oregon Marine Board wants to charge you a new fee.

It’s just one of many proposals for new fees and rules the Oregon Marine Board is scheduled to discuss at an open house at Eagle Crest on Oct. 16. The fee is so inadequately explained and justified in the documents provided for the public, it should be rejected.

What is clear is Marine Board staff want more money. The proposal is to charge a fee on all nonmotorized boats 10-feet long and over except motorboats and sailboats with valid registration. The proposed fee is $5 for a week, $17 annually or $30 biennially.

With that money, Marine Board staff want to create a “waterway access account.” Some of the money raised by the new fee would go to create and improve access to waterways, to safety education courses and to buy boats for underserved communities. Some of the money raised will also continue an existing program to fight invasive species. Those are all good causes.

But the public needs details. In the public documents for the meeting, there are no details about the need. Zero. There are no financial projections. Zip. There are no estimates of any increased costs that the Marine Board faces. Zilch. There is no explanation of how much of money in the “waterway access account” will go to each purpose and how much will go to fight invasive species. The Marine Board also doesn’t make it clear what money for motorized boat or sailboat registrations will go into this account.

The proposed fee for nonmotorized boats also replaces the current requirement for nonmotorized boats to carry an Aquatic Invasive Species Permit for $7. There is no explanation, though, of why the new fee must be higher.

The Marine Board staff can’t pretend it is adequately informing the public about the issues at this open house. It needs clearly justify in the documents for the meeting why it wants to take more money from the public and how it plans to spend it. It’s like the Marine Board staff is just going through the motions of a public process without caring to let the public in on what’s going on.