Raleigh, N.C. — The state's recreational boaters will be paying higher registration fees every year in order to keep coastal waterways and some interior lakes dredged.
Boats up to 25 feet long will pay a $30 annual registration fee, up from the current rate of a $15 flat fee for all boats. Boats 26 feet and longer will pay a $50 per year fee. The state will also dedicate more than $2 million per year from money raised by the state's motor fuels tax to the "Shallow Draft Navigation Channel and Lake Dredging Fund." According to fiscal reports done earlier this year, the gas tax money and new boat fees could raise around $6 million total.
Sailboats and paddled vessels, like canoes and kayaks, would continue to be exempt from the fee. Earlier version of the bill would have raised fees as high as $150 per year for some boats.
As this provision and a related bill were originally drafted, it would have applied only to coastal waterways used by small vessels to get to and from the Atlantic. Those waterways will include the "Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and its side channels, Beaufort Harbor, Bogue Inlet, Carolina Beach Inlet, the channel from Back Sound to Lookout Back, channels connected to federal navigation channels, Lockwoods Folly River, Manteo/Shallowbag Bay, including Oregon Inlet, Masonboro Inlet, New River, New Topsail Inlet, Rodanthe, Rollinson, Shallotte River, Silver Lake Harbor, and the waterway connecting Pamlico Sound and Beaufort Harbor."
The budget added interior lakes as places eligible for dredging assistance as well.
"The House was concerned that we would include the dredging of lakes as well," Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said Monday.