Bert Jabin Yacht Yard

Boats on racks Thursday at the Bert Jabin Yacht Yard in Annapolis. The state is proposing to raise the boat registration fees to help pay for dredging, navigational aids and launch areas. (Lloyd Fox / The Baltimore Sun / February 16, 2012)

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is suggesting lesser increases in boat registration than was proposed last month in the General Assembly.

Under the department's amendment, registration every two years would cost: $25 for boats under 16 feet; $50 for boats under 21 feet; $75 for boats under 32 feet; $100 for boats under 45 feet; $200 for boats up to 65 feet; and $300 for boats more than 65 feet long. The new fee levels would start in 2013.

Boat registration, regardless of vessel size, currently costs $24 every two years.

A bill was introduced in February that replaced the current flat fee with registration costs ranging from $50 to $700, depending on the size of the watercraft. Those increases would have been phased in over four years.

Boaters criticized the increases, which were proposed to make up for lost tax revenue.

For more than 40 years, the state has largely been able to pay for maintaining public waterways with the 5 percent tax on boats purchased in the state.

A decrease in boat sales in recent years and the elimination of federal funds to clear channels led the state to seek more revenue from registration fees.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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