Town wants boat taxes spent only on docks & piers

Photo Courtesy: MGNonline

BOSTON (SHNS) – Boaters who live or dock in the town Mattapoisett could see 100 percent of the boat excise taxes they pay on their vessels dedicated to improving public docks and piers in the community, under legislation being considered by lawmakers.

Town residents voted in October to steer all tax revenue from boat excise taxes to fix and maintain public boating infrastructure. The plan needs legislative approval, and a bill (H 4535) to dedicate all boat excise revenue to the Municipal Waterways Fund in the town was the topic of a hearing Tuesday before the Joint Committee on Revenue.

Rep. William Straus, a Democrat from Mattapoisett, filed the legislation that would affect only that community. Straus said there is “constant call” for improvements to piers and boat ramps.

“In the same way as gas excise taxes are restricted to going to the transportation trust fund this would provide the same result for those who pay a boat excise tax,” Straus said.

Jamy Buchanan Madeja, an environmental attorney who handles government relations for the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association, said boat infrastructure in the state has been neglected for decades.

Madeja said Mattapoisett officials would get to spend 100 percent of the revenue collected to maintain boat infrastructure instead of the current 50 percent, she said.

Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) and Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), co-chairs of the Revenue Committee, said they liked the idea and asked Buchanan Madeja if the MMTA has thought about exporting the idea statewide. Buchanan Madeja said they have not discussed it.

Straus said each coastal community might think differently.

“I am comfortable when a town wants to do this on its own,” he said. “To do it statewide might raise questions I couldn’t anticipate in some other boating communities.”

State lawmakers plan to meet through December in lightly attended sessions where bills can advance as long as no one objects.

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