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February 21, 2017
Stearns Beach Parking Fee Issue
lot of interest has been generated over the idea of the City of Ludington
charging non-City residents to park at Stearns Park. Here are the facts.
On November 21,
2016, the City’s Finance Committee met to review the proposed 2017, 2018, and
2019 budgets. These budgets showed that
the General Fund’s estimated expenditures would significantly exceed the
General Fund’s estimated revenues by about $264,400 in 2018 and by about
$125,200 in 2019. The City’s General
Fund, which receives most of its revenues from property taxes paid by City
residents, pays for the maintenance of all of the City’s parks, including
Stearns Park. The City’s 2017 budget for
all of its parks, beach safety, and boat ramps totals $496,800. In response to this information, the Finance
Committee discussed ideas on how to balance the 2018 and 2019 budgets. One of the ideas that was discussed was to
look at charging non-City residents to park at Stearns Park.
At the December
19, 2016 City Council meeting, the City Council approved the 2017 budget. The City Council expressed concern about the
potential budgets in 2018 and 2019. It discussed
some of the ideas, which were discussed at the Finance Committee, including the
idea of charging non-City residents for parking at Stearns Park. The City Council stated that City residents
already pay for the maintenance of all of the City’s parks through their
property taxes, and it did not want to further increase this financial burden
on City taxpayers. However, many
non-City residents use and enjoy the City’s parks, but do not contribute
financially at all towards the maintenance and upkeep of the parks. At this City Council meeting, the City
Council asked the City Manager to research how other communities charge for
parking at public parks/beaches.
On January 24,
2017, the City Manager presented information to the Parks Committee on how
other lakeshore communities in Michigan charge the public for parking at public
parks and beaches. Some of the other
communities that currently charge to park at public parks/beaches include
Empire, South Haven, Ottawa County, Saugatuck, St. Joseph, and New
Buffalo. While each of their parking fee
programs varies, for the most part, these communities charged non-residents
either a daily parking fee or an annual parking sticker. The parking fees were usually in effect
between Memorial Day and Labor Day and between approximately 10:00 a.m. – 6:00
p.m. The Parks Committee requested the
City Manager to conduct additional research on this idea. The committee also felt that this was a big
enough issue that the entire City Council should discuss it as part of a
workshop at some point in the future.
The City is still
conducting the research on this issue. It
must be emphasized that there are currently no proposals to charge for parking
at any park in the City of Ludington.
The City is simply researching this idea, which was discussed at an open
meeting of the City Council late last year.
If and when a proposal on this topic is developed, the City Council will
seek public input from as many sources as possible before making any decisions.