MADEIRA BEACH — By the end of the month, tourists may be paying a lot more here to park their cars.
The proposed new $1.50-an-hour parking fee, however, is in line with what most other beach communities are charging, according to city officials.
Last Tuesday, the commission unanimously approved raising the current $1.00 an hour fee to $1.50 an hour, about the same as rates in Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach.
A final vote is scheduled Tuesday. If approved, the new rate would go into effect immediately.
City officials estimate the increased parking fees could generate an extra $200,000 or more in the coming year, nearly enough to offset the annual estimated $300,000 cost of debt service for the planned new City Hall, fire station and recreational complex.
The city's finance director, Vince Tenaglia, said if tourism continues to rise as it has in the past year, the increase in parking revenues could easily top $250,000.
"We are just bringing us up to where everybody else is on the beaches," said Mayor Travis Palladeno.
The city's current $1 metered parking rate was established in 2002.
Parking meters are currently installed at:
• John's Pass Park (South Beach on the northwest side of John's Pass Bridge), Gulf Boulevard and 129th Avenue West
• John's Pass Village parking lot at Village Boulevard and 129th Avenue East
• Beach access lots, located on the west side of Gulf Boulevard at 131st, 133rd, 134th, 135th and 136th avenues
• City parking lots, located on the west side of Gulf Boulevard at 130th and 132nd avenues and on the east side of Gulf Boulevard at 133rd Avenue
• Kitty Stuart Park, Gulf Boulevard and 141st Avenue
• Archibald Memorial Beach Park, 15100 Gulf Blvd.
Residents will continue to park for free as long as they apply for a pass, a perk that has been in place since 1983.
Also exempt from paying parking fees are veterans whose cars bear license plates identifying them as a former prisoner of war, a Pearl Harbor survivor, a Medal of Honor recipient, or being awarded a Purple Heart medal.
"Other cities are charging their residents," said City Manager Shane Crawford. "But, I am in no mood to or have no reason to charge our residents."
Crawford first broached the idea of increasing parking fees last summer during budget talks, urging the commission to "invent new revenues" to help offset rising costs and planned capital projects.
"It is attractive to finance (projects) on the visitor's dime," he said.
In contrast, residents in neighboring Treasure Island must pay $40 a year to park for free in that city's metered parking lots. Elsewhere in Treasure Island, parking is $1.25 and hour or $6 for an entire day.
In St. Pete Beach, residents pay differing rates for a parking permit for metered and pay station spaces.
Pass-a-Grille residents and business owners can purchase a parking permit for spaces south of 32nd Avenue, while other St. Pete Beach residents can purchase parking permits for any metered and pay station spaces, both at a cost of $20 a year.
Nonresidents can purchase permits, too, but they pay more — $125 a year.
Daylong parking passes are available in St. Pete Beach to anyone for $12; however no parking permits can be used at County Park at 4700 Gulf Blvd.