The Marine Trades Association of Maryland is calling on state lawmakers and officials to reconsider recent discussions about raising the gas tax to pay for repairs to roads and bridges.
"Very simply, boats do not use these roads and bridges, and therefore should be exempt from a gas tax," the group said in a statement in response to a proposal to raise the state's 23.5-cents-a-gallon gas tax by 15 cents.
There are 175 marinas in Maryland that sell fuel, most at a cost of 30 to 50 cents more a gallon than on-road fuel facilities because of operational and regulatory costs. A 15-cent increase in the gas tax would force many marine fuel facilities to go out of business, according to the association.
"The fuel dock is just one component to these facilities, along with slip rentals, maintenance and boat storage," the association said. "If the boater now selects Virginia or another state for their affordable fuel, every aspect of the marina is now in jeopardy."
Maryland's recreational boating industry is a $2.3 billion industry. Fifty-seven percent of the registered vessels are less than 16 feet, and 84 percent are less than 26 feet, the group added.
"A simple change to the law to exempt `motor fuel purchased for sale at a marina for use in vessels' would not only save jobs, but would also go a long way toward supporting this very important Maryland industry," the association said.