Senator Sheehan welcomes cut in beach fees, anticipates greater revenue received by beach communities
STATE HOUSE — As Rhode Islanders’ thoughts turn to summer, Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) says he’s relieved that the General Assembly has seen fit to cut the state’s beach fees in half.
“Now that those fees have been cut in half, I would anticipate that given the added volume of day trippers to the beaches, the host communities should realize increase in share revenues,” said Senator Sheehan. “That will be a tremendous benefit to the host communities, such as my district in Narragansett. They rely on these funds, since they’re the ones who provide the beaches with municipal services, such as police, fire and rescue.”
As part of his budget proposal in 2011, Gov. Lincoln Chafee sought a hike in beach parking fees for residents and nonresidents that was estimated to put an additional $1.3 million in the state’s coffers.
As a result, the host communities, which receive a percentage of the revenue from the beach fees, saw a substantial decrease in the amount of parking funds they received. After receiving about $500,000 in 2010, two years later, the amount remitted to the beach communities was about $344,000. Among the reasons is that as the daily parking rates went up, more and more individuals purchased season passes. Revenues from season passes are not shared with beach communities.
To counter those effects, Senator Sheehan had continually introduced legislation to increase the percentage of daily beach parking revenue payable to the city or town where the beach is located.
“Having worked on this issue for a number of years, I was gratified to see beach fees cut in half, which will also benefit local businesses that count on summer tourism,” said Senator Sheehan, who serves as chairman of the Senate Oversight Committee.
The parking fees were increased in 2011 from $6 to $10, the weekend fees from $7 to $14 and the season passes from $30 to $60. Nonresidents’ parking fees went from $12 to $20 for weekdays, from $14 to $28 for weekends and from $60 to $120 for season passes. The fees will now return to the pre-2011 rates.
The beach parking fee cuts, effective July 1, apply to all types of passes: single-day weekend and weekday as well as season passes for residents, nonresidents and senior citizens. (Admission to state beaches themselves is free.) Those who have already purchased season passes will be eligible for a credit for the difference.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903