MADEIRA BEACH — For the second time in the past three years, the city plans to increase the parking rate at all city-owned lots. In 2018, the rate was raised from $2.00 to $2.50. Now, it is going up another 50 cents to $3 an hour.
This time the increase is going toward construction of a new parking garage, to be built on a city-owned parking lot across from the entrance to John’s Pass Village at 130th Avenue.
The City Commission agreed at its Oct. 27 workshop to move forward with plans to raise the parking rate. It was clear the commission favors the new rate, but it will take two readings of an ordinance, scheduled for November and December, to make it official.
Mayor John Hendricks said the 50-cent increase is expected to generate an extra $500,000 in revenue each year. He noted that those funds “will go a long way” toward building the garage.
Commissioner Doug Andrews pointed out that once the garage is built, the city will get all the revenue from the parking rate increase. The garage will be paid for “in no time, and then it’s just perpetual income for the city,” Andrews said.
When the parking rate was last increased, to $2.50 in 2018, income from parking fees became the city’s top revenue source, surpassing the ad valorem (millage) tax, then-City Manager Jonathan Evans said.
The increase is in line with a $3 per hour rate charged by Treasure Island, and $3.25 in St. Pete Beach.
The commission got more good news from Finance Director Andrew Laflin about funds that are available for the parking garage project. He said there is another $55,000 that had been set aside for infrastructure improvements from the last parking rate increase, which can be applied to this project. It could be used to help pay for the $200,000 in engineering costs for the garage in the current budget, he added.
It may be “a couple years” before the garage is completed, Hendricks told the Beacon, with the approvals and other preliminaries that need to be done before construction even starts.
Hendricks said he wants to make sure the ordinance for the parking rate increase is approved right away. “I’d like to see (the new rates) get in place before the height of tourist season, because that is who is ultimately paying the bill for the garage,” he said. City residents will not be affected by the rate increase, as they can park free in city lots.
Stuart lot raking it in
Revenue from the Kitty Stuart Park parking lot has greatly increased since the lot was renovated and expanded earlier this year. The park is a popular beach access, located beside the Caddy’s restaurant on the beach at 141st Avenue.
A parking revenue report showed the lot averaged about $700 per month income in 2019, compared to more than $8,000 monthly in the seven months since it reopened this past March. That would put the revenue on track to reach about $100,000 annually.
“That’s amazing,” Hendricks said of the revenue increase. In a later comment, he attributed the growth to several factors. The number of parking spaces was increased from 7 to 18, he said, plus the lot is getting more usage especially in the evening hours because of people parking there to go to Caddy’s.