Port of Manchester to begin charging for boat launching

Boaters who want to launch from the Port of Manchester’s ramp at the end of Main Street will have to pay beginning April 1.

Contract Administrator Alan Fletcher said boaters will be charged a $5 fee for use of the boat ramp, or they can purchase an annual pass. Annual passes will be $50 for residents who live in the port’s taxing district, and $100 for those who don’t.

Fletcher said boat launching has historically been free at the facility, but the port district has been paying increasingly higher fees for “garbage, janitorial, facility repairs, and general maintenance.”

In the past, the port relied exclusively on property taxes for revenue, collecting about $95,000 a year. However, Fletcher said Operations and Maintenance expenses and the cost of construction projects kept rising.

Last year, the port began investigating ways to increase revenues, including “annexing additional area, increasing its tax levy, and charging for services,” he said.

“The Port also investigated forming a special taxing district and heard unequivocally from citizens that it should look to user fees before considering an increase in property taxes,” Fletcher wrote in a press release. “As a result, the port commission tasked the Port Advisory Committee (PAC) to review funding options.”

Fletcher said the PAC “concluded that the most equitable method for funding Operations and Maintenance” would be to charge a fee for boat launching, and that a “modest fee could help pay for about 50 percent” of those costs.

In addition, the PAC determined that about 75 percent of people who use the boat launch come from outside the port’s taxing district, and the port determined “all customers should help support activities.”

This summer, parking near the boat ramp will be expanded. In 2008, a survey of boat launch users and nearby residents and businesses revealed that increasing parking in the area to relieve congestion was a priority.

The port applied for a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit and Administrative Conditional Use Permit for the project, and a public hearing was held by the Kitsap County Hearing Examiner on March 11.

However, the hearing was postponed to March 25.

If approved, the project would add eight truck and trailer parking spaces and 10 standard parking spaces to the lot. Fletcher said that a grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office will cover 75 percent of the cost of the project.

Dan Fallstrom, vice president of the Port of Manchester Board of Commissioners, said the port is estimating the project to cost between $500,000 to $600,000, and “we hope our share will only be around $100,000.”

Fallstrom said the ramp fees will be collected via a self-serve pay station and envelopes, similar to how day-use and camping fees are collected at many Washington State parks.

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