Boat-tax increase proposed in Virginia

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – A proposal under consideration by the Portsmouth City Council that would raise the city’s boat tax has angered area boaters, according to a story in today’s Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

The proposal would increase the tax on boats from 1 cent per $100 of a boat’s assessed value to as much as $1, according to the newspaper.

The proposed tax would raise money to pay more competitive salaries to teachers in the struggling school system, but boaters and marina owners argue that Portsmouth will lose waterfront businesses and out-of-town visitors if taxes are raised, the newspaper reported.

If council members agree to raise boat taxes, it will reverse a longtime effort to boost the city’s waterfront development. In 1991, Portsmouth dropped its boat tax from $1.50 to 1 cent per $100 of assessed value in the hopes of attracting more wealthy boat owners and creating marina opportunities, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

Gordon Shelton, president of Tidewater Yacht Marina in Olde Towne, said the number of vessels in the city’s six private marinas has nearly doubled since the tax cut . Several boat-related businesses also have expanded

“It had a dramatic effect,” Shelton told the newspaper.

The City Council is scheduled to give its final approval to the city’s 2004-05 budget at a public meeting tonight. A majority of the council members would have to approve those changes tonight before they could be included in the budget plan, the newspaper said.

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