STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
The Marble Falls City Council debated a boat launch fee and selected a design for downtown street signs during its regular meeting Jan. 15.
Council member Dave Rhodes made a presentation about the possibility of implementing fees for the use of boat ramps as the city loses one and is making improvements to two others.
“Not that fees are great, but we’re incurring — in our parks and our city — more and more expenses all the time,” Rhodes said. “The more services we offer, the more people come to use those services, but the more maintenance and user wear and tear is related to this.”
Establishing fees could include a box that operates on an honor system or installing electronic kiosks so people can pay with cash or card.
Such kiosks could cost $5,000-$10,000, said Parks and Recreation Director Robert Moss.
Based on a 2017 survey during a three-month period from April to June, the city found that the boat ramp at Johnson Park had more than 300 users, the one at Lakeside Park had 270 users, and the small ramp on Lakeshore Drive had nearly 45.
During the Jan. 15 meeting, Moss and council members referenced that the most users in one day was just fewer than 20.
“My opinion is, if we did that math on it, it would not be worth the money,” Mayor John Packer said. “I would never ask anybody to pay more than five dollars to launch.”
Rhodes expressed he thought even $5,000 per year would be better than nothing.
Council member Celia Merrill shared feedback related to the parks project construction that a boat launch fee would be another perceived action against residents.
“I’ve got feedback from a couple of residents that worry the parks improvement focus is bringing in people and not on serving the citizens,” Merrill said. “To me, these fees, even if we say residents get a cheap annual pass or residents don’t pay, it’s one more way of saying what you had in the past for free is no longer available to you.”
City Manager Mike Hodge backed up that point.
“Some of the early pushback we’ve got is that everything new to access is going to have a fee,” Hodge said.
Council member Dee Haddock expressed interest in learning more about potential costs and fees, but the item ended with the consensus that council would not charge fees for parking and boat ramp use.
Also during the meeting, the City Council selected a style for new downtown area street signs, which will have a black background with reflective white lettering and the city’s logo above the lettering. Each sign will have a white border around it.
Now approved, signs will have to be ordered before they are placed on downtown area street signs in the coming months.
In 2014, city staff proposed granite street name signs, which City Council declined due to the weight and cost.
Also during the meeting, City Council:
• was presented with a grant check from the Lower Colorado River Authority in the amount of $56,840 for the city’s automatic meter infrastructure upgrade;
• approved an ordinance to establish a Zoning Board of Adjustment, which will consider requests for zoning variances;
• extended the disaster declaration to Feb. 19, 2019;
• and amended an ordinance for fees and rates associated with permitting, development, and other city services.