TREASURE ISLAND — City residents will see their annual beach parking permits rise to $40 a year instead of the $75 originally proposed.
The City Commission decided on the lower rate Tuesday after City Manager Reid Silverboard said he had an explanation from the county to clarify parking restrictions as it relates to beach renourishment funding.
The state requires cities to provide a certain amount of public parking if they receive beach funding.
Silverboard had previously told commissioners that the city could lose its beach renourishment funding from the state if permits were not also made available to the public. Concerned that opening the permits to nonresidents could affect the $255,000 in annual parking meter revenue, Silverboard had recommended a $75 fee to offset some of the loss.
Until this year, residents and Treasure Island property owners had to pay only $5 to purchase yearlong permits that allowed them to park in metered beach-front lots.
But resident Roger Evans had objected to the increase and after looking at emails from the agency to the city, he told city officials they were overreacting.
"The emails said they may be in violation," Evans said. "May and will be are two different things."
After studying the city's beach parking spaces and state requirements, he presented his findings to the commission, which urged Silverboard to further investigate Evans' claims.
On Tuesday, Silverboard said the city would not be in danger of losing funding if it allowed parking for those with permits in seven of its nine parking lots and restricted parking passes to residents only. The $40 annual permits will be limited to one per household. Only property owners and residents can buy the permits, not others like management companies.
Those who already purchased the $75 permits can receive a $35 refund between Monday and March 22 at City Hall. An estimated 50 to 60 nonresidents who bought permits will be allowed to use them through the end of the year and then will have to revert to metered spaces.
"I was against the plan before, but I can live with this one," Commissioner Alan Bildz said.
Evans, who said the issue was never about the money for him but about the principle of the issue, is glad his fight to change the permit price is over.
He is one of the 215 or so residents who bought the permit at the higher price and is eligible for a refund.
"I feel vindicated," he said. "They say you can't fight city hall, but I guess you can."