Chesapeake Beach eliminates boat ramp fees for in-state residents

County Times Newspapers

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (March 24, 2022)—The Chesapeake Beach Town Council at its March 17 meeting unanimously approved the elimination of town-owned public ramp fees for town, county and state residents. The current in-and-out fee is $7.50.

The elimination of the fee will put a $10,000 dent in the town budget, but the council decided not to change the budget for next fiscal year, but instead change the fee schedule that sets the rates.

According to a release from the town after the vote, "The town receives significant funding to make repairs to the public boat ramps and maintain the Fishing Creek Channel from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Waterway Improvement Fund providing recreational boater access to the Chesapeake Bay"

Councilwoman Dr. Valerie Beaudin introduced the idea of eliminating the fee, calling it an economic development benefit. "I believe our businesses will benefit as well as town residents," she said.

Beaudin said the original idea was just to eliminate the fee for town residents, but the town was advised that since they receive state funding for the ramps, that they must extend any benefit to all state residents.

Councilman Charles Fink said he was originally opposed to the idea, but "Valerie made a compelling argument."

Beaudin said she understood the concern about the town possibly being overrun with boaters taking advantage of the free ramps. But she said, "It's worth the effort to give it a go."

Councilwoman Margaret Hartman said she doubted the absence of such a small fee would make a big impact on how many people took advantage of it.

"Through our partnership with the State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Town is able to provide a recreational amenity through six public boat ramps with ADA accessibility. We value the economic development impact the ramps provide to our local tackle shops, restaurants and businesses and look forward to continuing to host Maryander boaters in the Town of Chesapeake Beach", stated Mayor Patrick "Irish" Mahoney in a statement after the meeting. Mahoney was not in attendance at the meeting, which was chaired by Vice President Lawrence Jaworski.

The vote to eliminate the fee came prior to the council adopting next fiscal year's $10.4 million budget, of which $4.6 million is federal, state and county money. The property tax rate was set at $.3160 per assessed $100 property value, the sixth straight reduction.

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