This story posted Monday at naplesnews.com reported incorrect information about direction given by Collier County commissioners for a proposal to charge fees for beach parking permits. Commissioners asked staff for more information regarding a possible higher fee to use the county’s boat ramps but took no action on asking for more information on the beach parking permit fee question, county officials said.
Collier County Commissioners want more information before deciding whether to charge for beach parking permits.
Commissioners heard a suggestion by the county’s productivity committee to charge up to $75 per year for beach parking permits and charge a user fee for the county’s boat ramps during a budget workshop Monday.
But commissioners asked staff for a detailed breakdown of what it costs to maintain the beaches and the boat ramps so they can determine if the fees are necessary and if they are, what the cost should be.
The county’s productivity committee recommended “the dreaded beach parking fee” to commissioners as a way to reduce the fiscal 2010 budget deficit by between $500,000 and $1 million depending on the price.
There were no public comments made about the proposed fees during Monday’s meeting but the members of the public have sent e-mails to commissioners. Some of the commissioners expressed concerns about the permit fee based on e-mails from unhappy citizens.
“I am not in favor of the beach parking fee,” said Commissioner Tom Henning during the afternoon public services discussion.
“I’m very concerned about charging even small amounts for beach parking,” Commissioner Jim Coletta said. “People expect (free beach parking) here and the public benefits greatly from the amenity.”
Janet Vasey, productivity committee spokeswoman, said the committee weighed various prices for the fee against the public service aspect.
“We talked about several charges ranging from $30 to $75,” Vasey said. “Our goal was to avoid reducing services that are desired by the public but, in this case, user fees might be appropriate.”
The original option was suggested at $75 per year for the parking fee but the productivity committee left it to commissioners to determine the price.
Commissioners Halas and Fiala did not comment directly on the beach parking fee but said their constituents have expressed interest in keeping services even if it is for a fee.
Halas said he met with representatives from his district that felt that the services of the county were worth an increase in taxes or fees.
Fiala said she heard the same feelings from some of her constituents and said they treasure the services enough to pay a price.
Commissioners approved a 3 percent reduced budget for parks and recreation during the meeting by a 3-2 vote with Coyle and Henning voting against the motion. The budget approval did not include the option to charge for beach parking, which will be discussed at a later meeting.
Commisioners also did not decide on the boat launch fee, though some said it was an acceptable option.
The boat launch fee will be presented with more detail at a later meeting.
The productivity committee also suggested charging the public for park-sponsored events.
“We considered the option of charging revenue for special events and felt that the community would be willing to pay a modest charge,’’ according to the committee’s budget report. “Special events require significant, dedicated personnel and are expensive to run.”
The special event fees could raise approximately $100,000 for the fiscal year, the committee said.