Port debates raising park fees for seniors
Update May 10: The Port of Columbia County approved increases to the price of annual launch permits and annual day-use permits at Scappoose Bay Marine Park. The prices will increase Jan. 1 by 3%. Prices won't increase on permits for persons over 62 years of age or for qualified military personnel, who already pay a discounted price. The presented resolution initially included a 3% price increase for seniors and military personnel, which the marina advisory committee had overwhelming supported. The board passed the resolution with an amendment proposed by Commissioner Larry Ericksen, exempting those groups from the fee increase. "You want to get out and do as [many] quality of life things as you can, and I'd hate to stifle that," Commissioner Mike Avent said of senior citizens. The port is also beginning discussions on expanding the scope of military personnel eligible for the discount. Currently, the discount is only for active-duty and retired career military personnel. The expansion could allow disabled and honorably discharged military personnel to receive the discount.
The Port of Columbia County commissioners delayed a vote on resolutions to increase moorage and parking fees for seniors at the Scappoose Bay Marine Park. The votes are postponed until the Marina Advisory Committee can meet to discuss the proposal, but commissioners also want more information.
The resolutions, 2019-18 and 2019-19, would increase annual moorage and parking fees by 3.05%, in line with the consumer price index.
The fee increases would only amount to a few dollars for annual passes, and senior prices would still be a significant discount. Under the proposed pricing, an annual launch permit would be $89 for the general public and $53 for seniors and qualified military.
At the port's board meeting on April 10, Commissioner Larry Ericksen said even a 3.05% increase could be too much for seniors living on fixed incomes.
"I have to vote against that," said Ericksen. "These people, a lot of them are on fixed incomes. They don't care about the CPI. It doesn't matter to them. I just think it's kind of tough on them."
Commissioners will vote on the increase at the next meeting.
Board President Chris Iverson has requested data on how many senior permits are sold annually.
"I tend to side with Larry [Ericksen] on that, but I
want to see what the impact would be to the port," Iverson said at the port's April 11 meeting.
"I've talked to quite a few of those guys out of there and some of them are disabled and have a tough time, and like [Ericksen] said, they're on a fixed income," Iverson added.
Commissioners also discussed finding new ways to improve access, particularly affordability, for seniors and veterans.
Updated April 16 to specify that the price for annual passes would increase under the proposal. Daily moorage and parking fees would not increase.