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he dock workers’ primary focus is to ensure public safety at the docks, piers, and walkways

County Dock Worker Program Benefits Recreational Boaters

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on July 29, 2021

Citrus County’s scallop season is in full swing, which means increased traffic at county boat ramps. When launching from MacRae’s of Homosassa, Fort Island Trail Park, and Fort Island Gulf Beach, citizens and visitors can expect to see the friendly faces and bright yellow shirts of the Parks & Recreation division’s dock workers. These part-time staff members are always eager to help and provide service to those using the ramps during peak hours.

County Dock Worker Program Benefits Recreational Boaters

The Dock Workers Program was established in 2013 as a cooperative effort between the Citrus County Visitors & Convention Bureau (VCB) and the Parks & Recreation division. The workers are employed for 12 hours a week as casual labor during the busiest part of scallop season, from July through Labor Day. Initially, only one boat dock was staffed through the program, but two additional docks were added in 2017.

The dock workers’ primary focus is to ensure public safety at the docks, piers, and walkways and assist in maintaining smooth transitions between launches and overall order. They are also great listeners and can provide important information to boaters on topics such as parking, scalloping reminders/dos and don’ts, and hotel, restaurant, and entertainment suggestions.

One topic that has been popular among boaters this year has been the upcoming boat launch fees for MacRae’s of Homosassa, Fort Island Trail Park, Fort Island Gulf Beach, and Hernando Beach. Signs have been posted at the ramps to let users know that the fees are expected to begin being collected in January 2022; the dock workers receive questions daily about how much the fees will be and what they will be used for. Says John Wilson, who works at the Fort Island Trail Park boat launch, “The number one question I get from citizens is: will there be more parking?”

While exact uses for the funds have yet to be determined, all revenue generated from launch fees will be placed in a restricted fund to be used strictly for new projects and improvements related to County-owned boat launches. Projects and improvements could include, but are not limited to: parking expansion, replacement of wooden docks and pilings with aluminum, concrete, or composite materials, installation of tedder ramp, development of canoe and kayak launch, improvements to amenities such as restrooms, and development of new County boat ramps.

One thing those fees are not expected to pay for, however, is the Dock Workers Program itself. The funds provided each year by the VCB to pay the salaries for the dock workers come directly from the Tourist Development Tax, meaning that visitors are the ones who pay for this service. “The Dock Workers Program continues to be an excellent investment. The efforts of these workers help to make the experience better for residents and visitors alike during one of the busiest periods of the year,” says John Pricher, Director of Tourism. These dedicated county employees provide a beneficial service to all those who use Citrus County’s boat ramps, promoting safety and facilitating an enjoyable experience for those who are preparing for a day on the water.

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