vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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Marina owners hope lower boat tax could help business

Jimmy Franklin kept wondering why every year, more and more boats have been leaving Hope Springs Marina. Not only was the Aquia Creek marina losing losing one-quarter of its boats annually, but the ones that did stay were getting smaller and smaller.

Customers told Franklin, the general manager,  that the only thing that was wrong was out of his control: His marina was in Stafford, also known as “the county with the big boat tax.”

But boat owners could see a drastic drop on their tax bills this year, based on early recommendations from the Board of Supervisors for the fiscal 2014 budget and tax rates. The final decision would come late spring.

Supervisors will take up three scenarios for the boat tax over the next few months: a full elimination of the tax, a three-year phaseout, or with no change.

Marina owners believe that having more boats—and larger ones—would offset any revenue loss by creating jobs at marinas, and bringing in more sales and fuels taxes.

“I’ve seen enough evidence that it would be economically advantageous,” Aquia Supervisor Paul Milde said at a December board meeting.

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