Beachgoers will have three months of reprieve before Pinellas County imposes $5 fees at popular Fort De Soto and Fred Howard parks.
The County Commission approved the fees as part of the budget year starting Oct. 1 to stave off deeper cuts at parks. But the county needs until after Jan. 1 to start collecting the fees, parks and conservation resources director Paul Cozzie said Friday.
Pinellas can't actually spend the money for parking machines near the beach at Fred Howard in Tarpon Springs, or an entrance pay gate at Fort De Soto in Tierra Verde, until the budget year starts.
It also takes 10 weeks to manufacture the equipment, and time to install machines and hire parking officers, Cozzie said.
A different change affecting beaches will start early next month. Parking at Sand Key Beach in Clearwater will change from $1 hourly to a flat $5 daily fee that is more efficient for Pinellas to collect, Cozzie said.
The county intends to offer $75 annual passes for the parks, but seniors and low-income residents can get discounts.
Bicyclists, pedestrians and people with disabled parking permits will be exempt from the fees.