UPDATE | Port says no to boat-launch fees

Port of South Whidbey commissioners are against the idea of mandatory boat-launch fees at three South End facilities.

In an effort to raise funds to offset its $1.2 million budget shortfall, Island County has asked the port to consider charging boat owners $5 per launch, or $40 per year to put boats in the water at Bush Point, Possession Beach Waterfront Park and Clinton Beach park.

The concept is similar to that in place at state parks on the island, where a boat-launch fee of $7 is imposed.

"People on Camano Island began complaining about mainlanders using their ramps," said Port Commissioner Geoff Tapert. "That's where this began. I don't believe the collection of revenues would offset the cost of administering the money collected."

Currently, the port takes in roughly $300 a year in voluntary donations from a box at Possession Beach Waterfront Park.

Langley resident Bob Wimberly said charging retired folks $5 every time they put a boat in the water is unfair.

"I'd be willing to pay a flat $40 a year to help out," he said.

All three port commissioners concurred that the idea wouldn't work.

"Donations are gratefully accepted, of course, but charging people to use a facility they've already paid for through their taxes doesn't seem appropriate," Tapert said.

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