Sutter County supervisors to discuss boat ramp fees
WHAT: Study session by the Sutter County Board of Supervisors on boat fees for four county-operated docks/ramps.
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Monday.
WHERE: Hall of Records building, board chambers, 466 Second St., Yuba City.
Fees for launching from Sutter County boat ramps are up for discussion again next week, with more focus on a vexing portion of a process: how to collect the fees.
Monday's study session for county supervisors will be about coming up with a consistent way to do so, months after they went into effect.
"It's an honor system now," said Bob Starr, the county's deputy director for general services. "I think it's worked fairly well, but there's always room for improvement."
Supervisor Larry Munger, though, said his understanding is fee collection has been spotty, and the study session is focused on making it work better.
Boaters expressed loud disdain for the fees when they were discussed earlier this year, saying they didn't like the idea of paying for something without added services, such as security for vehicles parked at the ramps to protect against vandalism and theft.
County officials said the fees were necessary to pay for maintenance at the ramps, after state grants for thousands of dollars covered the costs of putting in ramps and docks, but not for upkeep.
"The feedback I get is most people, as long as they keep the ramps open, they're happy," said Munger, a frequent user of boat ramps in Sutter and other nearby destinations.
He said the best approach would be a metal canister at each dock to collect day-use fees, the ability for boaters to buy annual passes and then spot checks by county officials for compliance.
For two of the ramps, at Boyd's Pump and Tisdale Weir, a beefed-up collection system could also address security concerns.
Starr said under one possibility, boaters who buy either the day pass or annual pass would get a key to open an access gate.
"These are just ideas we're floating to see how receptive people are," Starr said, adding though public comment will be taken during the study session, supervisors won't take any action.
He said there is no reason at the moment to adjust the fees, which are $5 for day use and $50 for an annual pass. Out-of-county residents pay $100, while seniors and the disabled are exempt from fees.
Still, one frequent user of the launches said boaters are going to want to see results from what they're paying.
"They need to clean out the ramp before you can launch a boat," said Rob Reimers, a Yuba City resident and operator of Rustic Rob's River Guide Service. A lack of dredging, he said, has made the Yuba City ramp impossible to use.
Reimers said he was also skeptical about security gates and said surveillance cameras are what is ultimately needed. County officials have said the costs for such cameras make the idea difficult.
But Munger said while security's a problem, it's a problem anywhere.
"There are always predators," he said.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.