REDINGTON SHORES – Following a trend started by other local beach communities, the town commission decided at its April 25 workshop to double the parking fee at County Park, from $1 to $2 an hour. Parking revenue is split between the town and the county.

The commission also agreed to extend the parking fee to the other town parking lot next to the old Town Hall, which is now free, said Mayor Mary Beth Henderson. Commissioner Jeff Neal said that lot is mostly used by tourists.

The rate increase, though steep, is in line or lower than that charged by other beach communities, Henderson said. She read a list of parking rates along the beach. They ranged from $2 an hour at Treasure Island and Indian Rocks Beach to $3 at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. Also, “nobody has free parking like we do,” said Henderson.

Raising the parking rate to $2 an hour would give the town a substantial revenue boost, from $58,000 over the past year at $1 to about $116,000 at the $2 an hour rate, Henderson said. And, she added, it would bring Redington Shores’ parking fee in line with other nearby beach communities.

Commissioner Neal said he agreed with the rate increase to $2. “There’s no sense in us being lower than everybody else,” he said. The other commissioners were also in favor of the higher rate.

“There’s something to be said for consistency in parking costs, up and down the beach,” said Commissioner Michael Robinson.

Commissioner Pat Drumm was absent from the meeting.

Rental fees to increase at Constitution Park

The commission also agreed to raise fees for use of the facilities at Constitution Park for groups up to 50 people to the level charged groups of 50 or more. The rental charge includes the kitchen, restrooms and equipment. Under the new rates, the size of the group no longer makes a difference. Residents will continue to receive lower rates versus nonresidents, and for other specified types of organizations.

Residents will pay a $50 rental fee, a $200 deposit and a $5 key deposit. Previously, that rental fee was $35 if there were fewer than 50 people.

Nonresidents are scheduled to pay a $150 rental fee, along with the deposit charges. That rental charge was formerly $100 for under 50 people.

Nonprofit organizations will be charged a $100 rental fee, along with the deposit charges. That rental fee is up from $70 for fewer than 50 people.

Schools, Scouts and youth organizations are no charge, except for a $25 deposit and $5 key deposit.

Rental fees would not change for groups of 50 or more, although Deputy Town Clerk Tracey Cain said they rarely had groups that large.

The commissioners discussed the idea of being able to schedule more than one group per day, but that would require having the facilities cleaned between the different parties. It was decided to check into this and discuss it further at the next workshop meeting.