SWANSBORO, ONSLOW COUNTY - Boater Clifton Rouse loves spending time out on the White Oak River in Swansboro. But what he's not thrilled about doing is paying a higher boat registration fee.
"I'm retired, fixed income," Rouse said. "Everything keeps going up, so it doesn't help me any."
Those at the Wildlife Resources Commission say registration cost will be based on the vessel's size starting Tuesday. The current fees for a one-year registration -- no matter the size -- is $15, $40 for three years.
But come next month, those fees will jump to $30 for one year for boats shorter than 26 ft and $90 for three years. Boaters with vessels 26 ft. or longer will have to pay $50 for a one-year registration and $150 for three years. Even if the prices keep going up, that won't stop some boaters from being out on the river.
Officials say that additional money from the increased fees will help pay for dredging projects on coastal and inland bodies of water. Rouse doesn't think it's worth it.
"We don't need dredging," Rouse said. "My boat will go in any kind of water. But I still have to pay the price."
Boater Michael Butts says dredging is a must, especially for larger boats to safely make their way around the water.
"As long as they use it for what they said they're going to use it for, which is for dredging, then I don't have a problem paying for what I use," Butts said. "It's if they take it and start putting it in the general fund and using it for other things, then I have a problem with paying the extra money like that."
No one likes paying more -- but Butts says it's the price you pay with a big boat.
"Bigger boats are always more money, whether it's registration and insurance, where you keep it, how much it costs you to store the boat," Butts said. "It's just kind of, what goes around comes around, is the way I look at it."
Officials say they've mailed notices to those who need to re-register soon. They plan on notifying all boaters through a news release next week.
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