Changes ahead for Sutter County boat ramps
Sutter County is likely to make some tweaks before the end of the year in how it operates four boat ramps, with some possibly welcome aspects for users who have groused about new user fees.
Among the possible changes supervisors will consider are adding security features to parking lots at two ramps, and finding a way to make the fees more broadly based.
Douglas Gault, the county's public works director, said the possible changes reflect feedback from both boat ramp users and the supervisors, who weighed in at a study session earlier this week.
"The idea is we're making minor improvements based on a six-month trial period we just went through," he said.
Among the changes the board could see would be allowing a removable tag, possibly one hung from a rearview mirror, to be shared between vehicles; a means test for seniors and handicapped to determine how much of a fee they would be charged; and what security could be provided for the two most remote ramps, at Boyd's Pump and Tisdale.
When county officials began discussing fees earlier this year to pay for maintenance and other ongoing costs at the ramps, fishermen, guides and other boaters said they would have a hard time supporting the fees if vandalism remained a problem.
Chris Spade, a Yuba City river guide and tackle shop employee, said he would still see that as an issue.
"I don't mind paying so long as I know my truck's going to be there when I get back," he said.
Gault said supervisors asked staff to look into the issue more. But one idea, to install cameras, brings its own potential problems of placement, energy sources, how they would be monitored and cost.
As well, the board may consider allowing third parties, such as bait-and-tackle shops, to also sell passes for using the ramps. And Gault said the county is set to install a floating dock at the Tisdale ramp by next spring.
But still lingering is an issue the study session was also meant to address: Fee collection. Citing cost, Gault said the board rejected a proposal for gates at Tisdale and Boyd's Pump with a metal canister to collect payments.
"The board wants us to look at a greater level of enforcement," he said. "We've got some tools available that weren't available before."
Gault said though supervisors did not issue a strict timeline for bringing items back for formal approval, at least some would probably go before them by year's end to give the county time to implement them.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.