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Usage fees eyed for Saratoga Lake

Improvement district says over use, cost of managing lake at issue

Boaters fond of spending time on Saratoga Lake may find they have the ante up to go on the water if fees being drafted by the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District (SLPID) are realized.

Boaters fond of spending time on Saratoga Lake may find they have the ante up to go on the water if fees being drafted by the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District (SLPID) are realized. Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

— Boaters fond of spending time on Saratoga Lake may find they have the ante up to go on the water if fees being drafted by the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District (SLPID) are realized.

Membersof the SPLID introduced draft legislation in July that calls for owners of motorized boat and docks to register with the district every year and for boaters to pay for day or week use passes. The group is funded by a special property tax levied on properties near the lake, and has a budget of $387,500.

The fee would raise revenue to supplement the group’s efforts to manage non-native aquatic vegetation and also control the number of docks on the lake, and their impacts. A big part of the district’s mission is to administer chemical treatments to the lake.

“It’s just something that really needs doing and to get it just right is what’s taking so much time,” said SLPID’s Commissioner for the Town of Malta Tom Whalen. “The cost is substantial — with the mowers and the chemical treatment are around $250,000. Unfortunately, it grows each year.”

Under the draft proposal, which would have to be adopted as law by municipalities bordering the lake, fees would apply to all users, though prices would differ among transient users and those residing in the SPLID tax district. For a “transient boater,” there would be a yearly registration fee of $25 for a boat of 21 to 30feet in length and a $7.50 fee for one day on the lake, or $10 for a weeklong pass. A schedule outlining the proposed fees based on boat length and residency is available on slpid.org.

Not all hands on deck

Some whose lives are linked to the lake wonder about the necessity of a user fee, though.

“I think there’s still a lot to be considered as far as the legislation itself is concerned,” said Kay Sanford, a board member with the Saratoga Lake Association, a nonprofit not affiliated with the SLPID. “I would reserve judgment until the lake community expresses their opinions.”

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