Freedom—March 30, 2014—Will New Hampshire boaters embrace a modest increase in their annual boat registration fee if the new revenue helps fund the state’s under-funded milfoil control budget?
A coalition of state lake associations called Fair Funding for Invasives Control wants to know, and it has mounted an online boaters’ survey at the same time that a bill it has championed is moving through the legislature.
The bill, HB 292, will increase the boat registration fee by $2 and generate approximately $200,000 in additional revenue to help keep invasive variable milfoil under control in infested waters. State Senator Jed Bradley, who represents the Ossipee Lake area, co-sponsored the measure in January.
The House of Representatives last week passed the bill 238 to 66, according to the coalition’s spokesperson, Bob Reynolds. Ossipee Lake area representatives Merrow, McConkey, and Ticehurst were among those voting in favor.
Now the measure will head to the Senate, a deliberative body that is often unfavorable to fee increases. Reynolds says his group hopes the online survey will provide tangible evidence that boaters will support the proposed fee increase as a way to help address the state’s milfoil control budget shortfall.
A research report by Ossipee Lake Alliance last year showed the state was only able to pay 18 percent of the cost of controlling variable milfoil in 2012. Lake property owners and their communities had to pay the remainder. Moreover, 30 percent of the state’s infested waters had no milfoil control plan at all in 2012.
Ossipee Lake Alliance, which last year helped organize the Fair Funding for Invasives Control coalition, is one of a growing number of lake associations that have publicly questioned why the state doesn’t have a sustainable long-term funding plan for milfoil control, and why local taxpayers are paying most of the cost of removing milfoil from state-owned waters.