Paid off-beach parking plan for St. Johns County moves forward
Florida: The St. Johns County Commission made a move toward implementing a paid parking program for off-beach lots, but the final decision is yet to come.
In a 3-2 vote at Tuesday’s regular meeting, the Commission authorized the county administration to advance in its negotiations with Republic Parking System LLC to manage the payment and enforcement of parking at 25 locations near the beach.
Republic is the company chosen by the county to administer the parking system — if approved — after going through the request for proposal process.
According to county documents, Republic has estimated the revenue generated by the parking program to be $2.375 million per year and its cost to operate the system to be $627,229 per year with a proposed 3-percent escalation.
The county went through the RFP process because it wanted options on how to pay for beach services without having to dip into the General Fund, which is compromised of property tax collections.
In a presentation to the Commission, Jesse Dunn, the county director of the Office of Management and Budget, said right now the county uses about $1 million from the General Fund to pay for upkeep of the parking lots and related facilities, trash pickup, and lifeguard services. The services cost about $1.7 million, and the county currently generates about $700,000 from on-beach parking fees.
Dunn also pointed out that if a paid parking system were to be implemented, it could provide a dedicated funding source for a county waterway access management program for boat ramps that would assist with maintenance and upgrades as well as allow the county to pay for a regular dredging program.
“Boat ramp funding has been difficult to (secure) from year to year,” Dunn said. “The parking program could provide dedicated revenue to properly maintain boat ramp assets.”
As the vote suggests, the commissioners were divided on whether the county needs to charge for parking near the beach.
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