Boaters soon will have to pay a fee to launch at Kootenai County’s 22 ramps and docks at lakes and rivers, including Lake Coeur d’Alene, to help maintain and improve the facilities.
The County Commission voted Tuesday to charge users with boats registered in Idaho a $4 daily launch fee or $20 for an annual pass. Owners with boats registered out of state will pay double: $8 a day or $40 a year.
“Boaters don’t like the additional fee, but if it goes for maintenance they are all for it and will grudgingly pay the fee,” Commission Chairman Rick Currie said.
The new launch fee, which will take effect Jan. 1, makes Kootenai County equal with the state and the city of Coeur d’Alene, which already charge $4 launch fees.
The money would go toward repair and maintenance as boater use increases each year. The commission said the county isn’t getting enough money from boater registration fees to cover the increased expense.
Only three people spoke Tuesday during the county’s public hearing on the new fee. Jim Aucutt, chairman of the county’s waterways advisory commission, said boaters are willing to pay the fee because it goes toward maintenance and operation. Local boaters also are in agreement that out-of-state boat owners should pay more, he said.
Greg Delevan, who owns the launch adjacent to the county’s Boothe’s Park, is opposed to the county charging the fee to his family and friends and customers of Delevan Marina.
The commission directed Parks and Waterways Director Nick Snyder to negotiate with Delevan, who also is the county’s airport manager, and the owners of other launches co-managed with the county.
Next week, the commission plans to finalize the boat fee and adopt an annual fee for commercial boats and barges, including those loading and hauling construction materials to waterfront building sites.
The county has had problems with people repairing boat motors on county docks, which obstructs use and gets grease and oil in the lake and on the dock.
Occasionally, out-of-state boat dealers block launches by parking trailers on the ramps while customers test new models.
Currie said people have used the county ramps to load gravel and building materials onto barges.
The county proposes a $500 annual permit for marine contractors and fueling vessels. Cruise ships that load and launch from county facilities would have to pay $50 per linear foot of moorage.
Hagadone cruise boats wouldn’t have to pay because those vessels depart and moor at the Coeur d’Alene Resort’s private dock.
Out-of-state boat dealers and vessel repair companies would have to pay a $500 annual fee, while the cost for in-state dealers would be $200.
The county also plans to charge advertisers and concession-stand owners who want to use county facilities.