In a sinking economy that produces bad news on a daily basis, there's a splash of good news for local boaters.
Sandusky will not charge fees this year to launch from the city boat dock, located at Shelby and Water streets.
The decision was not an altruistic one. It was based on the fact that the launch has been a money-losing proposition for the city in recent years, city manager Matt Kline said.
"The last three years we've lost money, and we're not trying to lose money," he said.
According to Kline, the launch lost $16,021 in 2008, $17,832 in 2007 and $24,271 in 2006.
The decision comes with a trade-off for boaters.
The city will no longer staff a bait shop located in close proximity to the launch.The decision to close the bait shop and make the boat launch free was made in December, when the city put together its budget.
In 2008, the city charged $5 per launch, or $50 for a year-long pass. Senior citizens were charged $4.50 a launch or $45 for a year-long pass. The city issued 3,915 daily passes and 78 season passes in 2008, said Michelle Hall, the city's recreation program supervisor.
The city employed two part-time workers during the boating season, which stretches from April through October, Kline said.
Sandusky ex-officio mayor Craig Stahl said the city's recreation department made the decision to stop charging for the public launch. As a boater, Stahl is happy he'll no longer have to pay.
"I'm very glad," said Stahl. "It makes sense. Most of the public launches around here do not charge."