California proposes 300% registration fee hike
Advocacy groups are calling on boat owners in California to speak up on a recently proposed 300 per cent boat registration fee increase, outlined in Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2024 budget.
Recreational boat owners’ advocacy group Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), and the nonprofit state advocacy organisation Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC), argue that the hike is not justified.
“Most citizens can understand, over time, the need for modest increases in government fee structures,” said David Kennedy, BoatUS manager of government relations.
“However, BoatUS and RBOC do not believe such a significant increase is justified by the administration. We are asking the state’s boat owners to reach out to their state legislators to request they reject this proposal and engage with boating stakeholders to develop realistic boat registration fees that are dedicated to boating programmes.”
Registration fees in California are formulated based on several factors: type of vessel; age of vessel; purchase price; county of residence or business; gross vehicle weight; and any outstanding DMV fines or surcharges.
The number of registered vessels in California has been decreasing. Several years ago, California ranked third in the number of registered boats by state; today, the state is fifth.
The two groups, along with other recreational boating stakeholders, have been engaged in a two-year process to review the state’s boating programmes. While an increase was anticipated, the groups say there ‘was some expectation’ that the state would ‘recognise the significant contribution boaters already make’, such as $107 million in annual motor fuel taxes.
The organisations say they are also concerned that under the proposal, the fee increase would not go to boating programmes and services, including boater education and operator certification, safety and enforcement on the waterways.
“This levy will create a financial barrier to healthy on-the-water opportunities for the average California boater, whose boat is under 25 feet in length, and even more so for individuals in disadvantaged communities or on fixed incomes,” says RBOC Ppesident Debrenia Madison Smith.
Boaters disagreeing with the proposal can contact their state representatives at the BoatUS online Action Centre.
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