Users of the Kenai River may catch a break when it comes to paying fees.
At Wednesday’s Soldotna city council meeting, a resolution was adopted that reduces the launch fees for non-motorized boats.
Before Wednesday’s resolution made it through the consent agenda, the fees for launching a boat were the same regardless of whether it was motorized or non-motorized. One-time use was $15 and a season pass was $400.
Now, a non-motorized boat launch will be $7.50 for one time use, or $200 for a season pass. The fee schedule for motorized boats will remain the same.
Council Member Pete Sprague, who introduced the resolution, said he put forward the amended fee schedule after hearing feedback from members of the public.
He said that many non-motorized boat users get in at one launch site, but often get out at another, which would mean that they are on the hook for additional fees.
“Drift boats and non-motorized boats put into the river at one point and pull out somewhere else,” Sprague said. “So, if they (launch their boat) in Soldotna in one of our two boat launches and pull out further down river, they’ve already paid full price. And then (users have to pay) whatever they have to pay at the other end, so I think it helps alleviate some of the costs there.”
Soldotna currently has two boat-launch areas — one at Swiftwater Park and the other at Centennial Park.
Sprague said that while decreasing the fees will slightly reduce the city’s revenue, the benefit to residents would be worth it.
“It will have a little bit of a negative impact, but I don’t anticipate it being that much,” he said. “I think it will be a quieter experience on the river, which I think most people value.”
Andrew Carmichael, Soldotna’s director of parks and recreation, said that the city has seen up to 2,900 boats launched in a year. However, he said that the number doesn’t distinguish between motorized and non-motorized boats.
Carmichael said that the number of boats in recent years has dropped off due to increased fishing restrictions.
Sprague said that the decision to change the fees wasn’t intended to take the side of any user group. Rather, it was made to provide some financial relief to users of the river.
Reach Ian Foley at email@example.com.