NAPLES — Beach parking permits will be free for Collier County residents for another year.
County Commissioners did not support the option to charge county residents up to $75 for beach parking permits and officially took it off the table during budget discussions this week.
The beach parking fee was presented as an option in the notes of the parks and recreations budget proposal for fiscal 2010 but commissioners said it was unnecessary.
Commissioner Fred Coyle said the board is no where near finished working through all the details of the budget but residents can relax regarding beach parking.
“We found a number of reductions that we could take in the budget so there was no need to apply the extra fee,” Coyle said.
At the end of Tuesday’s budget workshop, the option was officially taken off the table.
“We made sure that was not an option that would be brought back for this budget,” County Commissioner Frank Halas said.
Residents may be safe for another year but the fee is sure to resurface in the future.
Commissioners said similar fees come up every few years and are sure to appear in future budgets.
In the past, commissioners have voted 3-2 to deny beach parking permit fees, a margin that could be swayed by just one vote. With the down economy commissioners expected more discussion on the issue, which could make beaches self-sustaining.
Coletta said the topic has crept up at least two or three times in the past eight years and he will continue to hold his stance in the future.
“I would have voted down the entire budget if it included charging for beach parking,” Coletta said.
The Collier County productivity committee suggested that commissioners consider the option given by the parks and recreation staff to charge for beach stickers. The committee presented its recommendation during the budget workshop this week as a way to bring in anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million annually.
Janet Vasey of the productivity committee said it was suggested as a way to help lower taxes but no one thought it would be approved.
“It’s an issue that has come up before, but I’m sure this is the first time we’ve ever supported it,” Vasey said. “Even we were lukewarm on the issue so I don’t think anyone expected it to pass.”
Marla Ramsey, director of Collier County parks and recreation said an option to raise boat launch fees is being revisited sometime in the fall.
The parks and recreations budget proposal included the option to raise boat launch fees from $5 to $8 per day. The commissioners said they would like to consider raising the fee but needed more information to determine if it was necessary and how much to charge.
The boat launch fee will be discussed again during the final review of the budget in August. Commissioners expect to approve the budget in September.