- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A plan to collect a user fee from boaters who use Ross Barnett Reservoir has been approved.

The Pear River Valley Water Supply District Board of Directors approved the plan Thursday night.

Board officials told The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1O3egDy ) that the fee could generate about $250,000 to $300,000 each year.

The funds would go toward ramp improvements, navigation aid improvements, shore maintenance and similar projects. When possible, district officials said projects would be coordinated with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Parks and Fisheries to receive matching federal funds.

Boaters will have the option of a three-year, one-year or 10-day permit. Decals will be required on the bow of the vessel. Fees will vary based on the size of the vessel and the length of the permit period.

The PRVWSD’s budget comes from fees paid by leaseholders in the district.

“Ross Barnett Reservoir is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and while we celebrate this milestone we must also realize that a lot of infrastructure is aging and in need of renovation or repair,” Jack Winstead, board president, said. “To this point, our leaseholders have shouldered all the financial burden, but under this plan all lake users will contribute to maintaining and improving our facilities.”

A user fee was implemented in 2008 but was soon after nixed by the state legislature. The Legislature, though it does not provide any money to the PRVWSD, does control its budget.

“Two good examples of what $250,000 can do are the recently completed projects at Fannin Landing with a breakwater and new comfort station, and the renovation at Goshen Springs Landing on Mississippi Highway 43,” John Sigman, PRVWSD general manager, said. “These were both $1 million projects that required a 25 percent match on our end.”

Sigman, who estimates anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of leaseholders own boats, says the Reservoir is one of only two lakes in the state that doesn’t charge some kind of user fee.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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