Charlestown hears boat ramp fee proposal — again
Port official describes honor box system
— The idea of a fee for the town’s popular boat ramp was once again floated this week, as a Port Deposit town council member spoke about his town’s public boat ramp policy to the Charlestown Board of Commissioners.
Port Deposit Town Councilman Bob Kuhs gave a presentation to the town
commissioners Tuesday night about his town’s honor box, which users can pay per day or annually.
Kuhs said Prosper Boudart, a Charlestown resident, came to him during church and asked him about Port Deposit’s boat ramp policy, and then asked him to inform Charlestown officials about the honor box system.
“My thinking is people who use the boat ramp have to bear an expense of using that ramp,” Boudart said.
Kuhs told the officials that the annual budgeted amount for ramp revenue is $20,000 a year, with some years even exceeding that amount, since he has been involved with the fee process over the past five years.
Kuhs said he retrieves the envelopes from the box, which are marked with specific numbers that correlate to the stubs placed on a car’s dashboard. An official can then look for the number on the envelope and match it against the stubs or annual sticker with the numbers on the dashboard.
Kuhs said that if users do
not pay the fee, he does have the authorization through the town council to issue tickets. He said he writes one to four tickets a weekend, but the town does not count on those for revenue.
In August 2014, the Wellwood offered to pay Charlestown $3,000 a year to not pursue installing a gate at the boat ramp, an idea to raise revenue at the time. The gate idea was nixed because the commissioners decided against spending an estimated $20,000 for the gate.
At the Port Deposit ramp, however, there is no gate or cameras, Kuhs said.
He said the difference in the town’s operations may be a golf cart shuttle in Charlestown from the Avalon parking lot down Wa- ter Street to the ramp, whereas in Port Deposit the parking lot is immediately adjacent to the ramp. Kuhs suggested that the shuttle driver could be responsible for collecting potential ramp fees.
Three signs display the prices of the ramp in Port Deposit. Kuhs said Port Deposit residents are given free access through an annual sticker, while Maryland residents are charged $5 per use and out-of-state users $10 per use. He said Maryland residents can purchase an annual sticker for unfettered access for $25 while out-ofstate residents pay $50.
Kuhs suggested that the commissioners discuss any potential fee structure with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Charlesown Commissioner Andy Thompson said he was unsure about the idea of charging for the ramp, but after hearing Port Deposit’s fee plan, said some kind fee is a good way to generate revenue, which could go toward maintaining parks or upgrading the ramp.
No action was taken on whether a fee will be created.
Cecil County has two public ramps that do not require a permit or fee, including Charlestown’s and a ramp on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property in Chesapeake City.
Charlestown officials heard yet another proposal about adding a fee to the town’s popular boat ramp during a recent meeting despite taking no immediate action.
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