ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Boaters’ group BoatU.S. has strongly criticized a proposal by Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich to levy a yearly $50 fee on all marina boat slips throughout the state, it reported in a statement late last week.
Instead, it is urging its 35,000 Maryland members to contact their state senators and delegates immediately to let them know of their opposition to the proposal. One out of six boat owners in Maryland is a BoatU.S. member and as many as one of every two slip holders belongs to BoatU.S., the association reported.
"This is a new tax, not a user fee," said BoatU.S. President Jim Ellis, a resident of Arnold, Maryland.
The purported purpose of Governor Ehrlich's so-called "user fee" is to raise money to protect Maryland's wetlands, according to the association.
"While restoring wetlands is a worthy undertaking that every Maryland resident should support," said Ellis, "vessels large enough to be kept in marina slips receive no special benefits from wetlands, so we fail to understand why slip holders are being singled to pay for this program."
Ellis also pointed out that the state already collects millions of dollars each year from boaters in marine fuel taxes but diverts 70 percent of these funds to non-boating purposes.
"It doesn't seem fair to ask recreational boaters to pay more when most of the money they're already paying isn't being used to benefit boating," said Ellis, noting that recreational boaters also pay millions each year to the state in sales and use taxes as well as boat registration and launch ramp fees.