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Council raises beach parking to $4 an hour

By Staff | Sep 30, 2015

A couple of fee increases were passed by the Sanibel City Council at its Sept. 22 meeting, with beach parking being raised from $3 to $4 an hour, while user fees are increasing at the Sanibel Recreation Center.

Mayor Kevin Ruane stated before the vote to raise the beach parking fees, that he had overwhelming support from the Sanibel residents through email or phone calls who supported the $1 increase.

The resolution also raises the civil penalty fee from $50 to $75 in the event such the $50 fee is not paid within 14 days.

The Sanibel City Council decided to pursue a raise in the fees due to the $760,000 deficit of beach maintenance.

“We do not run under deficits,” Mayor Ruane said. “The issue before us is for the Sanibel residents to pay off the deficit, or to raise the parking fees. We have 18 miles of beaches to maintain, and we have a deficit maintaining them.”

Councilman Marty Harrity agreed that the cost of beach maintenance, which includes restroom upkeep, beach care and other amenities visitors and residents use alike, should be a shared cost.

“We don’t spend money we don’t have and we know our beaches help make this city,” Harrity said. “People come here for the beaches and the experience. This is something we have to do to maintain the product.”

Mayor Ruane added he has not received one email or phone call from a resident against the increase.

The beach parking cost has been $3 for the last two years and with the increase to $4, it is estimated $422,000 will be raised to help combat the $760,000 deficit.

“I don’t think this will impact the number of visitors we get,” Mayor Ruane said. “It’s a shared expense.”

There was no discussion on the raising of the Rec Center user fees, which passed 4-0, with Vice Mayor Mick Denham with an excused absence.

The resolution passed raised fee in resident membership, member facility rental fees and in visitor membership and non-member facility rental fees.

Annual visitor individual fees goes from $434.50 to $521, while the visitor family annual cost is raised from $544.50 to $653.

For resident individual annual fees, it goes from $157.50 to $173 and family from $210 to $231.