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Saturday, December 3, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesIncrease in Boating Fees Proposed

Increase in Boating Fees Proposed

DPNR plans to increase boating fees (Gabriel Padilha photo).The Planning and Natural Resources Department plans to increase boating fees but first wants to know what the public thinks about it. With that goal in mind, the department plans a series of public meetings.

The meetings kick off Wednesday at Planning’s conference room at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas. The St. John hearing is Thursday at the Westin Resort and Villas. The St. Croix hearing is July 27 at the Port Authority conference room on the second floor of the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. All begin at 6 p.m.

Planning wants to increase registration, mooring and anchoring fees. Roberto Tapia, Planning’s director of the Environmental Enforcement Division, said fees haven’t been increased in more than 10 years.

He said the proposed increases are not “written in stone.”

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The public is already speaking out, and some people in the boating industry aren’t happy.

Kathy Mullen of Regency Yacht Vacations on St. Thomas wondered if Planning had a hidden agenda to move boaters out of the territory. “It seems like another anti-boater thing,” she said.

Mullen said boaters don’t use any government services except for trash pickup so she’s perplexed at why the increases are so steep. She’s particularly bothered by the increase in registration fees for boats under 16 feet because those are usually kayaks and small sail boats owned by families who will struggle to pay the increases.

Mullen also said that implementing a daily anchoring fee that’s in line with what marinas charge won’t be cost effective for visiting boaters.

Further, she said she wondered how Planning planned to keep tabs on fees like daily anchoring since it takes people to check to make sure the boaters have paid.

Live-aboard boaters will see the steepest increases when it comes to mooring fees.

“They use the resources the most,” Tapia said.

All boaters currently pay $5 a foot to moor their boats for a year. That price will rise to $25 a foot for live-aboard boats 16 to 26 feet long; to $30 a foot for live-aboard boats 26 to 40 feet long; to $35 a foot for live-aboard boats 40 to 65 feet long; and $40 a foot for live-aboard boats more than 65 feet long.

For noncommercial boats that are not lived on, the price will remain at $5 a foot for boats under 16 feet long. It will go up to $10 a foot for boats 16 to 26 feet long; to $15 a foot for boats 26 to 40 feet long; to $20 a foot for boats 40 to 65 feet long; and to $25 a foot for boats more than 65 feet long.

For commercial boats, the price will rise to $8 a foot for boats under 16 feet long; to $20 a foot for boats 16 to 26 feet long; to $25 a foot for boats 26 to 40 feet long; to $30 a foot for boats 40 to 65 feet long; and to $35 a foot for boats more than 65 feet long.

For noncommercial boats, registration fees will go from $25 to $45 for boats less than 16 feet long; from $50 to $70 for boats 16 to 26 feet long; from $100 to $120 for boats 26 to 40 feet long; from $150 to $170 for boats 40 to 65 feet long; and from $200 to $225 for boats greater than 65 feet long.

For commercial boats, registration fees will increase from $37.50 to $60 for boats less than 16 feet long; from $75 to $90 for boats 16 to 26 feet long; from $150 to $170 for boats 26 to 40 feet long; from $225 to $250 for boats 40 to 65 feet long; and from $300 to $325 for boats greater than 65 feet long.

Anchoring fees will also be increased. Currently boaters get two weeks free then pay $2 a foot. Planning has proposed a short-term anchoring category of up to 60 days at $45 a month. For three to six months, boaters would get a seasonal anchoring/mooring permit for $40 a month.

Tapia reminded boaters that in 2013, all boats registering must be inspected first. Planning staff will inspect them for things like connected holding tanks. Additionally, they will have to move off their moorings to prove they’re able to do so.

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