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Old 12-27-06, 12:18 PM   #1
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If the trail user fee was enforced & people were honest enough to pay it......

......this may not be as big of an issue as it is.

This trail has a trail user fee. So much per day or a fee for the whole year. Unfortunatly it is not enforced as it should be. Thus there are too many dishonest peopel who do not pay it. If it were enforced or trail users were more honest the funds may be there to be used for maintenance & the trail may not have fallen into such disrepair.

The fee is not voluntary, you use the trail you have to & are supposed to pay it.

If users start to or have complained & *****ed about it & they are the ones who are not paying the fee it is their own damn fault the trail is in the condition it is. Here's a clue, start paying the fee & it may help with maintaining the trail.

http://www.bikeiowa.com/asp/hotnews/...sp?NewsID=1928
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Old 12-27-06, 01:09 PM   #2
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OTOH, maybe they resent paying a fee for a trail that's in miserable condition. Is the trail privately owned? If it's publicly owned, they should find a better source of funding, rather than relying on unenforced fees. If there were toll roads, but no enforcement of tolls, do you think cagers would actually pay the tolls? Of course not. Why should trail users be held to a higher moral standard?
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Old 12-27-06, 01:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
OTOH, maybe they resent paying a fee for a trail that's in miserable condition. Is the trail privately owned? If it's publicly owned, they should find a better source of funding, rather than relying on unenforced fees. If there were toll roads, but no enforcement of tolls, do you think cagers would actually pay the tolls? Of course not. Why should trail users be held to a higher moral standard?
The trail is publicy owned & operated. The towns it goes through are responsible for their portion, the county conservation boards are responsible for the portions between the towns.

The trail was not in miserable condition to begin with. I remember when it was in beautiful shape. I think people on both sides got complacent, both the users & those responsible for the trail, causing it to fall into such disrepair. The governing bodies assumed people purchased the usage passes & the users probably assumed their usage is supported by the person before or after who paid for a pass.
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Old 12-28-06, 06:42 AM   #4
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I'm going to write this from a backpacker's perspective...

Paying to use public property is something that really burns me.

We have these "Adventure Passes" in CA where we have to pay a fee to use public lands (the legality of these passes has always been in dispute).

Well, let me be more specific...you typically have to pay to use the beautiful mountains, but not the scrubby deserts.

This is PUBLIC LAND, and we have to pay a "user fee"?

I'm sorry your trail is in such poor shape. However, after umpteen years of "Adventure Pass", I have yet to see any improvement in the trails through our local mountains. The trail work I have seen has been performed by Scouts, for free.
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Old 12-28-06, 09:13 AM   #5
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There are a couple of rails-to-trails north of Montreal (60 & 200 km) that have daily or season fees. I went on one last year, and the fee was collected by a students riding bikes. They could also enforce good riding practice and help keep the trails tidy. A sticker was put on the bike to show the fee had been paid, and they gave out maps which showed location of facilities and points of interest. I didnt notice anybody objecting to paying and there were plenty of people using the trails. The cost of maintenance would probably be a lot less if it were done on a continuing basis, rather than waiting till the trail is almost unusable.
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Old 12-28-06, 11:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
I'm going to write this from a backpacker's perspective...

Paying to use public property is something that really burns me.

We have these "Adventure Passes" in CA where we have to pay a fee to use public lands (the legality of these passes has always been in dispute).

Well, let me be more specific...you typically have to pay to use the beautiful mountains, but not the scrubby deserts.

This is PUBLIC LAND, and we have to pay a "user fee"?

I'm sorry your trail is in such poor shape. However, after umpteen years of "Adventure Pass", I have yet to see any improvement in the trails through our local mountains. The trail work I have seen has been performed by Scouts, for free.
what is the differance between paying a user fee for riding on a public bike trail to paying annual liscense fees for using the public roadways? Not a lot of a differance. But I suppose you don't like paying your annual liscense fees or fuel tax either for using the public roadways. Would you rather the taxes be raised to fund the trail systems, the parks, the roadways, etc.? At least the trail user fee is only paid for by those who use the trail & not all tax payers, a lot of which do not use the trail. If the taxes are raised to use the trail more then likely it will be the property taxes of all who live in the towns & counties the trail goes through. So which is the lesser or the 2 evils?
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Old 12-28-06, 11:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewP
There are a couple of rails-to-trails north of Montreal (60 & 200 km) that have daily or season fees. I went on one last year, and the fee was collected by a students riding bikes. They could also enforce good riding practice and help keep the trails tidy. A sticker was put on the bike to show the fee had been paid, and they gave out maps which showed location of facilities and points of interest. I didnt notice anybody objecting to paying and there were plenty of people using the trails. The cost of maintenance would probably be a lot less if it were done on a continuing basis, rather than waiting till the trail is almost unusable.
The trail I am talking about is a rail trail & as far as I know the only one in Iowa that has a user fee. The reason for the user fee was to avoid raising taxes to help maintain the trail. Maybe the taxes ought to be raised to fund the trail, or at least propsed that they be raised. I guarantee if that happens all kinds of hell will be raised against it & a lot of people will be pushing to have the user fee enforced.
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Old 12-28-06, 11:28 AM   #8
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Registration sticker rant

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewP
A sticker was put on the bike to show the fee had been paid, and they gave out maps which showed location of facilities and points of interest.
More damn stickers to uglify your bike, and ruin the paint beneath it. What the hell is wrong with a handlebar hang tag or a reciept of sorts? Why must it be that every asshat in authority has to dream up one or another permit decal/sticker that has to be slapped directly onto a vehicle?

Knowing how these college kids are impatient and instantanious, they'll probably apply the sticker anywhere they please before you can blink too, eh? There goes your flaking, fragile Reynolds 531 tubing decal.

Dammit, I can think of some cases in where a commuter in certain areas might need a motorcycle license plate mount just to mount all the stickers required. Registered with P.D., registered with XYZ parking lot, registered with ABC building, trail pass, bicycle shop sticker, RAIL transit permit #___, CITY transit permit #___, college parking permit #___, et. cetera.

Someday I might just take a beater frame and stick every sticker mentioned to it's seattube. Not a pretty sight.

Furthermore, for permits (and not something like a trail pass), has it occured to these idiots issuing such permits that a commuter may own more then one bicycle? Nah. Just slap it on and shut up!

I've skirted this by screwing a piece of plastic styrene to an old Cateye removable lamp bracket with a nylon strap for my transit permits - stick the decal to the styrene piece, and strap it to the handlebar of the machine you intend to ride on.

...And why aren't tolls collected directly at the entrances to the trail?

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Old 12-28-06, 11:46 AM   #9
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user fee? That's what all those taxes are for...hmmm....
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Old 12-28-06, 12:17 PM   #10
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the usage tag, whether daily or the annual used to be a piece of paper that put in your pocket, bike bag, wallet, etc. That may have changed to a sticker, don't know, been quite a few years since I have ridden on the trail. But it used to be no stiker to uglify your bike as others have suggested it may do. I think the reason for not having it as a sticker was to keep the amount of litter at the trail head, etc. low. The paper backing could be a litter problem if the usage tag was a sticker.
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Old 12-28-06, 12:24 PM   #11
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Here are some links with details to the trail in question:

This one has details:
http://www.inhf.org/iowatrails/rrvt-intro.htm

this one offers a neat view of it:
http://www.inhf.org/iowatrails/rrvt-trans.htm

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Old 12-28-06, 12:57 PM   #12
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What a ridiculous concept! Should all roads and trails be paid for by permits? I'm sure enforcing this cost more to administrate than they would ever be able to collect. Even issuing the permits probably cost more than they collected - even without enforcement.
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Old 12-28-06, 01:05 PM   #13
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What a ridiculous concept! Should all roads and trails be paid for by permits? I'm sure enforcing this cost more to administrate than they would ever be able to collect. Even issuing the permits probably cost more than they collected - even without enforcement.
What do you think your liscense & registration fees ifor your motor vehicle? A permit. So you think this is ridiculous too? How do you suggest the costs are paid for? Or should we let the roadways fall into such disrepair they too are unusable?

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Old 12-28-06, 02:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N_C
What do you think your liscense & registration fees ifor your motor vehicle? A permit. So you think this is ridiculous too? How do you suggest the costs are paid for? Or should we let the roadways fall into such disrepair they too are unusable?
Car Licenses are a bad analogy - not the same at all - that's a single permit per car - every car with no exceptions - not a permit for certain users to use a specific road - that's what's ridiculous.
It is is unworkable to try to fund a single small trail by collecting user fees. It would cost more to administer than they could possibly hope to collect. That's surely why it's not enforced.

Trails should be funded out of local taxes or via bonds. They should not be allowed to fall into disrepair because some people's politics are averse to the concept of paying for things they might not use. (I don't use the local schools but I sure pay for them).
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Old 12-28-06, 03:05 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Theakston
Car Licenses are a bad analogy - not the same at all - that's a single permit per car - every car with no exceptions - not a permit for certain users to use a specific road - that's what's ridiculous.
It is is unworkable to try to fund a single small trail by collecting user fees. It would cost more to administer than they could possibly hope to collect. That's surely why it's not enforced.

Trails should be funded out of local taxes or via bonds. They should not be allowed to fall into disrepair because some people's politics are averse to the concept of paying for things they might not use. (I don't use the local schools but I sure pay for them).
Then there's a differance between you & I when it comes to paying taxes. I have a firm belief that unless you have children in school you should not have to pay for the schools out of your taxes. In my ares my property taxes are what pay for schools. My wife have no children & it pisses me off every time the school district needs a ****ing hand out they raise the property tax as a result. I say only raise the taxes for those that have children in schools, or start charging tuition for public schools. But stop coming after me when I don't have kids in school.

Sioux City has a population of about 85,000 to 90,000 people. Of those we have about 14,000 students in the public school system. Which means over 3/4 of the population are getting ****ed over because they are paying for the schools and do not have children that attend. Talk about a ****ty deal.

I use the roadways, the parks, the trails, etc. So I have no problem paying taxes, user fees, & annual fees to use those things. When or if my wife & I have children & they start attending school then I have no problem paying more in taxes to support the schools, nor would I have a problem paying a tuition to send my child to school. Bottom line, if I'm going to use it I have no problem paying for it, otherwise keep your damn hands out of my pockets.
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Old 12-29-06, 07:01 AM   #16
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Does the trail have a volunteer group that supports it?

There's a couple of good examples not to far from you of trails successfully collecting trail fees. You may have ridden both.

http://www.cannonvalleytrail.com/wheelpass.htm
The group that supports this trail puts up manned pay stations at each end and the middle (Welsh) durring peak times. At other times they have prominent self pay stations that at least make it easy for honest people to self enforce.

If you've got a group like this you might suggest they start this practice. If you don't have a group like this, start one.

The other example is the Sparta Elroy Trail. 30 years of trail pass usage.
http://www.elroy-sparta-trail.com/
I think they use patrolling rangers. Comtact them and see what works.

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Old 12-29-06, 07:35 AM   #17
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It is a sticky situation, user fees of public facilities are nothing more than an additional form of taxation. IMHO and in general, if public funds are used to build something, then public monies should be used to maintain it. And in response to NC's rant on school taxes...it is give and take. All property owners pay taxes (or should) but we don't necessarily all use all the facilities. You may be paying taxes that support schools, libraries, recreational facilities, senior centers, mass transit, etc. You may use the mass transit and the recreational facilities, where as some else used the senior center and library. It is a fact of life. I agree that better control of spending is necessary in many cases, but when you give the government(s) money to spend they spend it as they see fit and the only recourse is to vote for the people that want to spend it the way you want it spent.

Back to the original question; If I am paying user fees I would expect to see results, if there are an excessive amount of users not paying the fees then it is not being administered properly.There has been a shift in the integrity of society in general today, the honor system appears to be a thing of the past and anybody that foolishly depends on it to fund anything is not only naive, they are setting themselves up for disappointment. Too many people have a sense of entitlement...whether justified or not.

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Old 12-29-06, 10:43 AM   #18
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Wisconsin collects a trail pass fee for use of State trails by anyone over 16. This is not required for walking. You often also need a state park sticker to park your car in the lot. I have only been stopped once to check my pass, but use these trails rarely. I suspect enforcement is most geared to heavily used trails especially on holiday weekends. I was stopped in tourist trap Minocqua on Memorial day weekend. Fortunately my $165 patron hunting license includes this pass.
I have not seen any of our local governments add fees for local trails, but am sure they are looking at it as revenue sources dry up.

http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/parks/fees/#trailpass
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Old 12-29-06, 11:44 AM   #19
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I clicked into your links and see that the trail has an advocacy organization:
http://www.raccoonrivervalleytrail.o...-maps-fees.php
I would think this group would have a vested interest in collecting the fees and seeing to it that the money comes back in the form of repairs and local grants.

It looks like they are working with the Lanesboro folks. The Root River Trail has been a great success and has turned into a cottage industry in the area (as demonstrated by the Web group managing the page). Root River does not collect a trail fee. They don't need to since so many local businesses have built their livelyhood around the trail, the local chamber of commerce's do the work of motivating State and Local Gov to do what's needed. It dosn't sound like you have that kind of motivation at work yet on the Racoon Trail. Cannon Valley on the other hand rely's on fee income and has successfully collected it for years. See if you can hook up The Racoon River floks with the Cannon Valley folks.

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Old 12-29-06, 12:03 PM   #20
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I don't mind paying a usage fee for trails. But if there is going to be that is enforced, then activly enforce it. Otherwise abolish it or make it a voluntary one. For the trail in question it is required so therefore should be activley enforced.

There has been talk within the Siouxland Trails Foundation, Of which I belong to & helped create, of having a voluntary usage fee to help fund the trail system in my area.

I am not sure if I'm in favor of that or not yet. One way I will find out if anything like that is successful is to ask the Siouxland Off Leash Association, http://www.sola-sc.org/ They are the organization responsible for having our off leash dog park built. There is an optional, voluntary annual usage fee for those that use the park & wish to help pay for the maintenance & upkeep.
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Old 12-29-06, 05:01 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
It is a sticky situation, user fees of public facilities are nothing more than an additional form of taxation. IMHO and in general, if public funds are used to build something, then public monies should be used to maintain it. And in response to NC's rant on school taxes...it is give and take. All property owners pay taxes (or should) but we don't necessarily all use all the facilities. You may be paying taxes that support schools, libraries, recreational facilities, senior centers, mass transit, etc. You may use the mass transit and the recreational facilities, where as some else used the senior center and library. It is a fact of life. I agree that better control of spending is necessary in many cases, but when you give the government(s) money to spend they spend it as they see fit and the only recourse is to vote for the people that want to spend it the way you want it spent.

Back to the original question; If I am paying user fees I would expect to see results, if there are an excessive amount of users not paying the fees then it is not being administered properly.There has been a shift in the integrity of society in general today, the honor system appears to be a thing of the past and anybody that foolishly depends on it to fund anything is not only naive, they are setting themselves up for disappointment. Too many people have a sense of entitlement...whether justified or not.

Aaron

I agree with much of this assessment. There are lots of different taxes and fees for different purposes ... too many to list completely, but we have all heard them: (1) pay for something that the public wants but would be difficult for a private firm to acquire or run, (2) change or discourage behavior deemed negative to one's neighbors or society, (3) redistribute income/resources, (4) risk-sharing or public insurance, and so on. A usage fee for a public good could also be thought of as another tax.

Ignoring the issue of how to collect the usage fee for a moment, one could argue that the reason for both public support and a usage fee is that society is willing to front part of the bill--perhaps to encourage people to use the trail--but still thinks that the people that use the trail should pay a greater proportion of the costs. Consider that many subways and bridges are publically owned yet a usage fee is applied. It makes sense since there is some fixed cost to having the service but more usage of the resource increases costs. I would think that the trail falls into this category; i.e., as more people use it the costs of maintenance increases.

Note that even though one doesn't use the resource, he or she might gain from public support of the resource. Using the subway example above, if I drive, I gain from the subway since the streets will be less crowded. I think that similar arguments could be made about public schools and so on; although the connections might be more tenuous and difficult to measure.

Anyway, I agree with the earlier posts that collecting fees might be so difficult to warrant complete public support or an end to its support if it is too expensive.

Just curious, how do you know that too few people are paying their usage fees? From your opening post, I assume that when you write "there are too many dishonest people" paying, that this is based on the trail being in poor shape; not that people have a moral obligation to the law and pay their fees.

Are usage fees completely used to support the trail? Or do the fees go into a big pool and used for many purposes?

Last edited by invisiblehand; 12-29-06 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 12-29-06, 05:57 PM   #22
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After further thought I think rather than likening the user fees to car license a better simile would be to compare them to say a hunting license or fishing license. But then again you have the enforcement issue to deal with....

Aaron
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Old 12-29-06, 06:44 PM   #23
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I have to ask why a trail usage fee was even considered in the first place. The only positive to such a scheme I can thing of is that it is very easy to implement. This probably points to why it's unmaintained, whoever has responsibility does not see it as a high priority.

A fund raising scheme with much more community involvement would probably raise more money. "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" as the saying goes. It could also attract more people to the path that wouldn't otherwise use it.
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Old 12-29-06, 09:39 PM   #24
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Using students to collect fees in the summer would keep costs down, as they dont have to be paid much and that is when the trails have the highest usage. User fees are only expected to cover 25% of the costs, which is comparable to the amount that gas taxes and licence fees contribute to road maintenance.

N_C You may not have any children, but you certainly benefit from living in an educated society.
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Old 12-30-06, 11:52 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N_C
what is the differance between paying a user fee for riding on a public bike trail to paying annual liscense fees for using the public roadways? Not a lot of a differance. But I suppose you don't like paying your annual liscense fees or fuel tax either for using the public roadways. Would you rather the taxes be raised to fund the trail systems, the parks, the roadways, etc.? At least the trail user fee is only paid for by those who use the trail & not all tax payers, a lot of which do not use the trail. If the taxes are raised to use the trail more then likely it will be the property taxes of all who live in the towns & counties the trail goes through. So which is the lesser or the 2 evils?
Well, I can assure you that nothing thrills me more than paying my taxes. I also congratulate the people of Ohio for getting a sales tax reduction from 6% to 5.5%. In CA it's at least 7.25%, depending on what city one is in.

You know, I understand that we need taxes to keep the public facilities up and running. I like to have my garbage picked up and read under lights at night.

I object to two things about user fees:

1. I pay these "user fees" but don't see any improvements in the facilites. It seems the user fees go to fund rangers to cite those who don't pay the user fees.

2. Do we want to create a toll road for cyclists? "Want to go out for a ride on the MUP? No, it's too expensive, we'll just stay home." Do we apply to toll to walkers, skaters?

Just to clarify, I'm thinking of the Santa Ana and San Gabriel river trails here in So Cal. Both are paved and follow their respective river beds from a point inland to the coast. I would hate to have to pay a toll to use them.
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