Staff photo by Allison Potter
The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen will vote on the metering of Pelican Drive at its meeting on Feb. 14.
Parking revenues for the town of Wrightsville Beach were up 7.31 percent in 2012 from the 2011 calendar year for a gross revenue total of $2,235,072. Lanier Parking manager Bryant Sykes reported the steady climb in revenue over the previous year at the town’s annual parking workshop on Thursday, Jan. 17.
In 2012, revenues from the Verrus pay-by-phone service saw an increase of 54.4 percent; meter revenues were up 6.6 percent; and residential pass sales were up 26.9 percent. The only negative variance between 2011 and 2012 was the revenue from parking citations, which dropped by about 2,000, while the percentage of citations collected remained above 80 percent.
“This is indicative of a mature parking program because people know they have to comply,” Sykes said. “It is also part of the effort of our staff to make sure people can comply easily.”
For at least the past five years, the citation collection percentage has been above 80 percent. Sykes said the industry average is around 65 percent.
Less than 1 percent of that citation revenue came from violations in the Harbor Island parking district that was established in 2012. A total of 604 citations were written that equaled $15,100 in value.
Because town hall received a few complaints from Harbor Island residents about their inability to provide parking for their guests without going through the special events process, the board of aldermen agreed to discuss the topic at its annual retreat on Feb. 2.
Forty-three new meters for Sunset Avenue and Iula Street will accept both credit cards and coins. Each new meter costs $535, and the total capital outlay is $24,000. The board of aldermen voted to add these new meters to increase customer convenience and to replace the older meter heads in the area.
Those older meter heads will either be used for spare parts for the other coin meters around town or for the metering of Pelican Drive, which the board will vote on after a public hearing at its Feb. 14 meeting. Sykes said his company has identified a total of 75 possible parking spaces that could be metered on Pelican Drive. If the board does vote to meter Pelican Drive, Lanier estimates that the total cost would be $61,172, including the purchase of new meter heads. This cost would be reduced, however, with the use of the older meter heads from Sunset and Iula.
The board also discussed the possibility of a 25-cent hourly rate increase for parking but did not take any action. With the possibility of the federal government contributing less and less for beach renourishment and the town having to cover up to 17.5 percent of the costs for upcoming projects, Alderwoman Elizabeth King said she would prefer raising parking rates rather than see a raise in taxes for the residents of Wrightsville Beach. Of the total cost for a beach renourishment project, 17.5 percent would equal about $700,000 over four years, King said. With a 25-cent increase for all of the town’s metered parking, Sykes said the additional average annual net revenue the town could expect would be $237,218.
The board agreed to discuss how it would handle the funding of beach renourishment projects, if required, at the retreat after Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sisson expressed his desire for the town to set policies for how it uses parking revenues.
“It seems to me like we are going about this backward right now,” Sisson said in reference to the rate increase and beach renourishment funding. “We are thinking about making a decision that should be based on a policy, but we don’t have the policy yet. Otherwise you have not discussed all the ramifications that could happen.”