Compromise on boat ramp fees

By Chuck Weber email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX)-Palm Beach County commissioners backed a compromise on salt water boat ramp fees on Tuesday, settling on a $35 yearly pass-- scrapping plans for a daily charge.

Commissioners backed the controversial idea of ramp fees months ago over the objections of boaters and anglers.

"I feel like we already pay our fair share," said Mike Kelly, heading out on the ramp Tuesday at Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach. "We have to get licenses, registrations and everything you else you pay for on the water."

The original proposal was a $75 yearly fee, 10 dollars a day. The daily fee was to be collected either at electronic kiosks, or by part-time county staffers or a contracted company. Tuesday Dennis Eschleman, head of Parks and Recreation, told commissioners the biggest cost of instituting the ramp fees would be collecting that daily charge.

So the new suggestion? Go with a more modest annual fee only and ditch the daily charge. In the end, in a 5-1 vote, commissioners approved a $35 annual boat ramp fee.

"We're still opposed to the concept of boat ramp fees to begin with," explained John Sprague of the Marine Industries Association. But he said the plan commissioners approved "takes less county staff to orchestrate," and the $35 annual fee is "not unreasonable."

Details on how the fee can be paid still need to be worked out. The charge will go into effect October 1.