Boat ramp fees increase in Sutter County
Beginning later this year, launching a boat from a Sutter County owned ramp will cost you something, but not as much as was once proposed.
County supervisors approved charging $50 annually to residents to use any of four ramps, and $100 to noncounty residents, hoping to correct an imbalance in needed maintenance for the ramps and the revenues to do so.
Supervisors also approved charging $15 for anyone who wants to camp overnight at Live Oak Park, up from between $10 and $5 now, and left unchanged at $5 day use fees.
"No one likes fee increases, folks," Supervisor Jim Whiteaker said during the meeting. But if the county didn't take action and the cost of maintenance continued to rise, he said, there would be greater outcry if larger fee hikes were proposed later.
County staff originally suggested boat ramp fees of $80 for residents and day use fees of $7 for Live Oak, the only park with an existing boat launch fee of $30. When avid boaters and fishe men balked and the county's fish and game commission studied the issue and suggested no action, staff then came up with alternatives for the supervisors.
The ramps, which were improved by a state grant, have become expensive for the county to maintain, particularly when money to pay for needed work is in short supply.
Boat ramp users told supervisors Tuesday evening they understood the need for the fees, but hoped they would lead to other improvements at the county's four ramps:
• Boyd's Pump.
• Live Oak.
• Yuba City.
"I'm only in favor of paying for boat ramps if we're going to have security," said Bob Boucke, owner of Johnson's Bait and Tackle in Yuba City.
Cameras and restrooms, he said, would go a long way to attracting more people to using the county's ramps.
Supervisor Larry Montna said he couldn't support higher fees on his constituents in Live Oak because the park there represented their only river access, and they were the ones who made it a strong park.
However, other supervisors pointed out someone has to pay for park maintenance, and suggested it was fairer for people who use the parks and ramps to do so than the county's residents as a whole.
"The ramps have been improved, so maintenance is much more expensive," Supervisor Stan Cleveland said, later adding of those balking at fees: "It's to the point you want urban standards, but at rural cost."
Supervisors approved raising the camping fees on a 3-1 vote, with Whiteaker opposed, and enacting a comprehensive boat ramp fee on a 4-0 vote. Supervisor James Gallagher was absent.
The camping fee changes will go into effect April 1, while the boat ramp fees will take effect July 1.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786.Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.