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How much will a day at the beach cost? Volusia County Council talks about increasing the fees
By Pat Andrews
posted Jul 17, 2013 - 7:32:00am
Want to pack up the family and head for the beach?
It could cost more in the future — perhaps up to $15 to drive on the beach — which currently costs $5. And, if you want to avoid the fee and getting salt on your car, you might pay $5 to park near the beach and walk down to the water. Now, that's free.
A discussion of beach fees came up during the July 11 County Council meeting, following a proposal by Council Member Josh Wagner, whose district includes Daytona Beach. Wagner suggested upping the fee for daily beach passes to as much as $30 for nonresidents.
"This was a starting point for me," Wagner said. "We really need to start charging for off-beach parking."
County Manager Jim Dinneen said paying for beach services has been a struggle despite efforts to cut costs. He suggested a $10 daily pass for everyone, with no higher prices for nonresidents.
In fiscal year 1996-97, the time of the last fee increase, Dinneen said, the county was spending $7.7 million more than it took in from beach passes to maintain and patrol the beach. That has risen to $10.7 million for fiscal year 2013-14.
Wagner said he would not support higher costs for locals, who already support beach services through their property taxes. He noted the county already charges nonresidents more to drive on the beaches.
Council Member Pat Northey called a $30 charge for nonresidents to get on the beach "ridiculous," but said the County Council should look at increasing the price of annual passes for nonresidents to perhaps $100.
Currently, season beach passes cost Volusia County residents $20, and nonresidents pay $40.
County Council Member Deb Denys said she wouldn't support a fee increase for Volusia County residents, who spend money when they come into the beach communities.
Vice Chair Joyce Cusack agreed, and suggested charging $15 for nonresidents.
County Council Member Pat Patterson said he wouldn't have a problem with a day pass costing $10 for locals and nonresidents, but couldn't see charging anyone $30. A $5 pass wouldn't generate enough extra income, he said.
Member Doug Daniels said he'd like to see cars off the beach, but access to the beach be provided.
However, he added, people hate change.
"They'd rather die in a ditch than crawl out and admit their illusions were wrong," Daniels said.
County Chair Jason Davis suggested a workshop to hash out a plan for beach fees, since the County Council wasn't coming to any agreement. Davis liked the idea of paid beach parking, since people who park and walk are still using the beach, he said.
The beaches bring a lot of visitors to Volusia County, and the fees are "a major issue," Davis said.
The workshop will be scheduled during an upcoming meeting.
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