Boat launch fees in Menasha and Neenah may go up

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jun 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-08 19:32:52-04

Boat launching fees in Neenah and Menasha might be going up next year. Its part of an effort to help pay for life-saving resources when boaters need it on Lake Winnebago in particular.

About five years ago the Neenah Menasha Dive and Rescue Team managed to raise about 90-thousand dollars for their water rescue efforts through a generous donation. But today those funds are nearly depleted and that's why they're turning to people who utilize waterways in their community to help fund their efforts.

Water rescues out of Neenah and Menasha happen anywhere from 3 to 15 times a year. While their services aren’t common, if you've ever needed their help you're glad they're there.

"It's good to know that you got Neenah Menasha Fire here, otherwise you gotta wait for Winnebago county (Sheriff’s Office) to come up from Oshkosh," says Neenah’s Mayor Dean Kaufert. He knows how valuable a resource can be so close to the lake, especially when the clock is ticking and lives are on the line.

But budgeting for the water rescues is tough, especially without asking for extra tax dollars from the community.

"We're trying to keep them the same. Trying to do more with less," says Chief Kevin Kloehn of the Neenah Menasha Fire and Rescue Department.

In an attempt not to mess with taxes and continue to offer their services, the department has proposed raising launch fees in both cities.

"It's a dollar and it's going to be tacked onto the season fees here in Neenah. And I believe Menasha is going to tack it onto their daily boat launch fees," adds Mayor Kaufert.

"We're looking to just add a little bit of a piece to the pie so that we can continue to maintain and possibly upgrade and replace equipment as it breaks," says Amos Mikkelson a member of the Neenah Menasha Fire and Rescue Team and Dive Team.

And while fundraisers and community donations have literally built this rescue team into what it is today, now the department is asking everyone who uses the water to chip in for safety.

This proposed launch fee has not gone through at Neenah or Menasha’s City Council just yet. But the dive team estimates that it could bring in as much as two thousand dollars in 2017 if the two cities supported the proposal.