Massachusetts : State fees increase for registering boats, snowmobiles, ATVs

Area sportsmen will have to scrape together a few extra bucks to register their boats, ATVs and snowmobiles this year, thanks to a new state fee on recreational vehicle registrations. 

Snowmobile MassachusettsThe new surcharge, which will cost snowmobilers, ATV riders and many boaters an extra $4 every two years, caught some sportsmen by surprise when it went into effect Sept. 1. 

Larry McCullough, a Leicester resident and member of the Easy Riders Snowmobile Club of Marlboro, said he hadn't heard any talk of the new surcharge until it had already gone into effect. 

"It just doesn't make sense that they snuck that through without anybody knowing about it," Mr. McCullough said. "They seem to have this idea that they can keep increasing fees and increasing fees and nobody's going to balk." 

The new surcharge was added to the state budget in the Senate last year and is the first hike in recreational vehicle registration fees since 2003, said Amy Mahler, a spokeswoman for the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. 

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The surcharge will go to a newly created Massachusetts Environmental Police Trust Fund under the control of the secretary of energy and environmental affairs. The fund will pay to train and equip new environmental police officers and to maintain their office, Ms. Mahler said. 

New surcharges on tickets written by environmental police officers and on environmental police officer private details also will go into the trust fund, according to the legislation. 

The 10 percent recreational vehicle surcharge hikes snowmobile and ATV registrations from $40 to $44. 

The increase is the same for boats under 16 feet in length, more for larger boats. For boats over 40 feet, for example, fees go up from $100 to $110. 

Nathalie K. Grady, executive director of the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association, said the group doesn't welcome any increased fees on recreational boaters, but it is pleased, at least, that the new fees will go to support environmental law enforcement and the protection of natural resources. 

Roughly 138,000 boats and 14,000 snowmobiles are registered in Massachusetts, Ms. Mahler said. They must be registered every two years under state law. The new surcharge is expected to raise more than $600,000 over the next two years as boat and snowmobile registrations expire and are renewed at the new rate.