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The wolf at the door!

And Little Red Riding Hood said: “What big eyes you have, Grandma.” The wolf, pretending to be granny, answered: “All the better to see you with!”

Then, the boater said: “What big hands you have.” And a politician, trying not to look like a wolf, answered: “All the better to grab your funds with!”

The problem with children’s stories is that they can mirror reality, or vice-versa. So, beware, the wolf could already be at your door! As most states grapple with serious budget shortfalls, attempts to raid important boating funds and use them to replace general revenue income could happen virtually anywhere, anytime these days.

For example, in California the wolf is already in the door. According to the Recreational Boaters of California (www.rboc.org), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing to wipe out the Department of Boating & Waterways (DBW). The DBW is funded solely by boater fuel taxes, registration fees and interest from boating facility development loans. 

The DBW is a strict user-pay, user-benefit system that receives no general tax dollars. That makes it, and the state’s 3 million boating enthusiasts, a prime target. Correctly, the RBOC has issued a “Call-to-Arms” to all California boaters to fight the proposal. Moreover, since DBW funds are used solely for supporting boating safety, education and facility infrastructure development, it is an issue important to the boating industry at large.

The wolf gets around fast. He’s in Ohio, too. A couple of recommendations or proposals are floating around right now. First, there’s a suggestion that all motorboat registrations fees be raised $5 and the money be transferred to the Diesel Emissions Reduction Grant program. It’s not the first time this kind of idea has surfaced. A few years ago, another wing nut proposed doubling the boat registration fees to fund Ohio hospital trauma centers!

The second proposal in Ohio is even more real – it will be actually be included in the state’s budget bill next month. This one would transfer the state’s Scenic Rivers program from a division that receives general tax revenue to the Ohio Division of Watercraft (DOW) which is solely funded by boaters’ fuel taxes, title and registration fees and federal boating safety grants.

At first blush, a Scenic Rivers program might seem like a fit for the DOW. It’s not! The DOW is an agency mandated to primarily provide boating safety education and law enforcement on Ohio’s waterways. The Scenic Rivers program is a preservation effort concerned with streamside land forestation, stream biota, flora and fauna. Simply put, this proposal may look like granny but it’s really a raid by the wolf! It will be opposed by the Boating Associations of Ohio along with other boating organizations.

Bottom line: In these economic times, boating funds will be viewed by state administrations as available-for-the-taking. Dealers and boaters must stand up in unity to safeguard these funding or be victims of these raids.

Comments

7 comments on “The wolf at the door!

  1. Jon Roop

    This is at least bait-and-switch; probably more. If we knowingly pay a specific tax, it is because we choose to. If our money was used for another purpose without our knowledge or consent it would be fraud in the business world. Unfortunately, the perpetrators will not face charges or jail. Remember this the next time we vote.

  2. zyxw

    Part of the problem is that this is happening within the industry too. Loyal, long-term boaters who are in the sport for the long haul are being charged more and more to try to make up for the huge drop in demand from the new boater segment. Demand is down at marinas, boatyards, and supply stores so some are raising prices to compensate. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone in the marine industry justify reaming their best customers because they think they’ll just smile and take it. You all know what I mean: the oil that is twice the price of what Wal Mart charges, or the boatyard that charges more to inspect the fire extinguishers than the cost of buying new ones. When marine businesses see even further demand reductions I hope they eventually see the light.

  3. Capt Skip

    Here in west Florida, the local county is now proposing & they will approve, Boat Ramp fees at all county park launch ramps in Pasco Cty. Sounds ok if the fee’s were going to support boating & recreation saftey, enforcement, education, or navigational aids, etc. but Nooooo they are going to the general fund. The wolf Paks are every where. They are even a protected species even if they take your lambs & they will
    Write your representatives Your only weapon is the pen!!!!!

  4. AnonymousBob

    This type of revenue grab is going across all boundaries not just boating. I see more and more speed traps by locals as a way of increasing revenue. Governments are grabbing at everything, moving or not, so we have to be wary of everything. The problem is that we all have to work twice as hard to keep our jobs that we don’t have the extra time, or $$, to spend fighting our government as they take more and more of what little we have. “Land of the free” is kind of ironic dontcha think??

  5. Mad dog

    Norm,
    As we all know, governments grab at boating trust funds for programs that pay their own way is not new. Michigan was able to defeat a Governor’s raid on their Wildlife and Boating dollars through a ballot issue. The redistribution of wealth is the song everyone is singing in government. What will happen when the money begins to run out? Will there be more golf course taxes for California? Maybe additional taxes on worms, maggots and fishing equipment will help pay for state government. Or a breathing tax on people who work to improve their lives!
    My advice, “Don’t go outdoors and fish. Stay indoors and play Wii games, virtual reality will be all you can afford and the environment will be better for it”

  6. Bill

    The funny think is we love the politician who pledges to reduce our taxes. We even vote them in and then expect government services to be paid by the fairy godmother.

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