MACo Defends Waterway Improvement Fund

HB 548 was heard yesterday in the House Ways and Means Committee, which seeks to limit the amount of the boat excise tax to no more than $10,000 for any boat  purchased.  As covered by

The bill was drafted with aims to stimulate local marine-related jobs and businesses and discourage out-of-state purchase of boats — a practice which has become increasingly common due to the lower sales tax of vessels in neighboring states.

However, opponents believe instituting a cap would negatively affect the Waterway Improvement Fund, a fund that is used by local governments for projects such as the dredging of waterways; the building of bulk heads, piers, and boat ramps; or the purchase of rescue equipment for water emergencies.
House Bill 548 would further reduce the Waterway Improvement Fund, leaving Maryland unable to maintain waterway navigation channels, resulting in public safety hazards, access issues for commercial watermen, detriments to restaurants, marinas, and tourism, and a loss of boating related jobs,” said Olivia Anderson, legislative director of the Department of Natural Resources.

According to DNR, the economy has affected revenue going into the Fund and it has not been able to meet project demand. The Fund has a backlog of projects totaling $54 million. Limiting the amount of the excise tax to $10,000 would further reduce revenue going into the fund greatly affecting the number of important and necessary waterway improvement projects to be funded each year.