Pay the fee or face the consequences. That's what signs posted at Wakulla County boat ramps warn boaters. The Wakulla County Board of Commissioner's began imposing a five dollar launch fee back in March.
"It's another fee at a time when jobs are tight, money is tight, gas is high, uh, and I think it's one more stress that we don't need at this time," said Ronald Crum, a Panacea business owner.
The Wakulla County Parks and Recreation Division said they have received more than fifty calls from people who are upset about the fees. They released the following statement:
"With revenue shortfall within the county, we looked at ways to maintain upkeep of these facilities. We understand that people have concerns. The rationale is that the user of these facilities needs to help contribute to maintenance and repair of them."
There are eight ramps located throughout the county. The Parks and Recreation Division says fees collected at individual sites will directly impact that particular ramp. Fees collected at Mashes Sands have already helped pay for repairs to the floating dock.
Frequent users can opt to pay a forty dollar annual fee instead.
Ted Uyeno, a professor at Valdosta State University, says he launches from the ramps frequently. He says he understands the fees.
"Keeping places like this safe and uh, clean .... it's an important safety thing," said Uyeno.
Business owners fear the fee will drive tourists, and residents, away.
"People, when you agitate em or aggravate em, they're gonna either not go finish or they're gonna go to the next county or the next ramp," said Crum.
The fees are on an honor system at this point. Boaters deposit the fee into the drop boxes. Signs warn that people who do not comply may have their vehicles towed. Some residents we talked to said they received letters informing them they had not paid.
Designed by Gray Digital Media