The city council plans to appoint a seven-member committee to discuss retaining and possibly raising the parking fees along Seawall Boulevard during its regular meeting in October.
Along with renewing the fees, which are set to expire in July 2020, the council and the Galveston Park Board of Trustees want the committee to consider language for the May 2019 ballot that raises hourly and day rates.
“Maintaining stuff on the coast is an ongoing battle,” park board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun said. “As the amenities have come online, this money is there to maintain them and replace the things as we need to and then we need to put in more.”
The parking fees along the seawall, called beach user fees, go toward beach park operations and services. Costs for personnel who maintain the amenities take up 44 percent of the parking program’s expenses.
In 2016, the Texas General Land Office gave the city permission to charge up to a $15 daily charge in beach user fees.
As it stands, people pay $1 per hour to park on Seawall Boulevard, with an $8 daily cap.
“Keep in mind that parking lots on the north side of the seawall, they are charging a straight $10 fee regardless of time of day people pull into the lot,” Assistant Seawall Parking Manager Scott Freudenberg said.
The land office restricts fees for public beach access, allowing a local government to issue fees only upon building amenities, such as the public restrooms and covered bus stops on the seawall.
Since 2015, the parking program along the seawall has remitted $731,000 to the city of Galveston. These fees go directly to amenities, sanitation, beach safety services and signage at the beach parks.
The park board administration estimates about $67,000 is lost each year to a 25 cent administration fee the city incurs for each transaction.
“We think that under the current system that we have … that a million dollars is going to be the cap,” de Schaun said. “We’re hoping every year that we hit it.”
The park board budgeted $950,000 in revenue from the program for both this and next year.
“Our No. 1 commitment is to maintain what’s up there,” Mayor Jim Yarbrough said. “First and foremost, in my mind is continuation of the program.”
Once appointed, the committee is scheduled to make a recommendation for ballot language in January, which would go before voters in May 2019.