Pending legislation would create a low-interest loan program that would allow marinas to pay for emergency dredging projects, according to two Michigan lawmakers who represent Macomb County districts.
Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, introduced legislation Thursday that would form a partnership with marina owners, private lenders and the state to help in dredging project, according to his office.
The measure comes as Lake St. Clair has reached critically low levels, affecting boaters and business owners in several shoreline communities, including Chesterfield Township, New Baltimore, St. Clair Shores and Harrison Township.
“Our waterways are not only beautiful, they are also a vital part of our economy, which is why this measure is necessary,” Brandenburg said in a prepared statement about Senate Bill 252.
State Rep. Andrea LaFontaine introduced companion legislation, House Bill 4410, regarding this issue.
“Poorly maintained waterways are affecting commerce and tourism in cities across our state,” stated LaFontaine, R-Columbus Township. “The legislation will help job providers make the necessary improvements in a cost-effective way to ensure all Michigan residents and tourists can enjoy the Great Lakes this summer.”
LaFontaine's district encompasses Chesterfield Township, New Baltimore and other surrounding communities. She recently spoke about dredging concerns at a township board meeting, saying at the time that lawmakers were searching for solutions.
Boating concerns amid low lake levels
She and Brandenburg's efforts are aimed at preserving Michigan's boating industry.
In 2012, there were 922,856 registered recreational boats in the state--ranking Michigan behind only Florida and Minnesota, according to Brandenburg's office.
"According to a 2007 study by Michigan State University, boating has a $3.9 million impact and represents 52,000 jobs. A similar study done by MSU in 2010 found that the direct economic impact on a local economy of a single marina with 455 slips is: 38 jobs, $1 million in income and $1.6 million in value added to the economy," the news release stated.
What the introduced legislation would mean
Highlights of the bill are:
- Lenders will take the credit risk, lending private dollars and make the final decision on the loan amount up to the cap based on their risk exposure/tolerance.
- There will be a $500,000 cap on loans to individual marinas.
- Loans will be for five years.
How will the low water levels impact your boating season? Tell us in the comments' section below.