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Should Residents Pay for Sandy Point Beach?

During a budget workshop on Monday, Town Council President James Seveny said that something should be done since the beach continually loses money.

Among the numerous ideas being kicked around by town officials to raise revenues is the possibility of exacting a fee for use of Sandy Point Beach by town residents.

Right now, residents can access the beach for free and nonresidents pay $7 on weekdays and $12 on the weekend.

During a budget workshop on Monday, Town Council President James Seveny said that something should be done since the beach continually loses money.

According to a report by EastBayRI.com, the beach raised just $9,000 in revenue in 2013 while it cost the town $62,142 to run.

One suggestion was to charge residents $80 for an annual beach sticker. 

The revenue could fund beach improvements as well as potentially make the beach a money generator instead of a money pit.

The change would be similar to the arrangement at other town-owned beaches, notably Narragansett Town Beach, which generated $1.9 million for that town in 2013. 

Narragansett charges an $8 per person daily pass fee and seasonal passes are available to residents for a fee of $25 per year for adults, $10 for children aged 12 to 17 and free for seniors over 62. Nonresidents can pay $50 per year for a pass for adults and $20 for children and seniors. 

Those passes are non-transferrable although a $200 transferable pass was approved by the Narragansett Town Council recently.
 
It must be noted that Narragansett's town beach is a huge tourist destination in addition to a place frequented by locals and that town also collects significant sums by charging for parking.

Sandy Point Beach will never become a cash cow like in Narragansett, but the point remains that town officials are looking everywhere to generate additional revenue without subjecting residents to greater tax increases than they already face.

Portsmouth's Finance Director Jim Lathrop said the council has been riding that theme during the budget process, which he described as a fairly smooth process.

It's his first budget season here in Portsmouth and "it has been going well and the council has been making progress," Lathrop said. 

The town entered the budget with a $900,000 surplus, according to a recent audit and the council has been been making minor adjustments to Town Administrator John Klimm's proposed $57.8 million budget, which calls for a 2.4 percent tax levy increase over last year's budget.

Among the adjustments are the tentative additions of two public works positions and a $120,000 reduction to the school district's request, reducing the proposed increase to the school contribution from $725,000 to $600,000.
Norma Louise Jones May 10, 2014 at 03:52 PM
If money was being earmarked strictly for IMPROVEMENT OF THE BEACH (has anyone noticed the huge washout at the end of the boardwalk?) I would accept a minimal annual fee ($25 - $30 per year per family). Without some type of raking the sand, there is little space that is conducive to taking young children to play.
TAMORI May 10, 2014 at 10:59 PM
Norma -- What "boardwalk"?
Debbi S. Pappas May 11, 2014 at 10:08 AM
$80???? crazy. No one will go there.
The Shill May 11, 2014 at 04:53 PM
The town has killed the campground by raising the fees now they are going to kill the beach. The town should not be in the buisness of turning a profit it shoud be in the buisness of providing services for the tax payers. We pay taxes to run the beach and other town parks thats what taxes are for. The fire dept does not turn a profit are we going to charge a fee to put out fires now? The dpw does not turn a profit are we going to have to buy a sticker to drive on town roads? Forget about turning a profit and just run the services we are already paying for.
Average Joe May 12, 2014 at 03:30 PM
Why does Sandy Point have security guards and life guards in the first place?? The last time I looked, McCorrie Point and Island Park are part of Portsmouth, and both have beaches, but no security or life guards. Just wondering.

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