WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — North Carolina residents are given the gift of unlimited access to the beaches of our state — but that doesn’t mean beach towns have to make it easy, or affordable for you to visit.
In the Wrightsville Beach accessible and affordable parking are not things the beach town is known for, and now it appears parking costs could be on the rise again.
RELATED: Wrightsville Beach votes to increase parking rates and hours of enforcement
During Monday’s Board of Alderman meeting, town leaders discussed possible new changes to parking in 2019, including the rate hike from $2.50 an hour to $3.
In 2018, the town only made $2.94 million compared to the budgeted $3.02 million expected, according to a presentation by Lanier Parking.
There are three options for the board to discuss when it comes to rates: keep the current cost, increase it to $3 for lots with amenities, or raise rates to $3 across the board.
Extending hours of enforcement is also a possibility, currently, enforcement times are from March to October from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. for street parking, and from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. for lots.
Harbor Island and the Old Causeway area are enforced from May 1 to Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Wynn Plaza is enforced from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The town will consider changing enforcement times based on models produced by its parking management company Lanier Parking.
For the town, parking citations and parking revenue are big business, but with weather-related impacts of 2018, there were less parking citations given out. This means less revenue was collected than anticipated.
Also, prompt payment of parking citations had an impact on revenue collected.
“A larger percentage of citations paid on time led to a lower portion of violation revenue made up of late fees,” according to the presentation.
If the town were to change the overall rate to $3 per hour island-wide, about 200 parking meters, referred to as gray meters, would not be able to change rates.
About 40 of those could be switched to pay-by-phone, but the town would need to purchase about 150 new meters.
The Board of Alderman did not make any official decision at its meeting this week and will discuss the future of parking prices at its annual budget retreat on Jan. 15.
Michael Praats can be reached at Michael.email@example.com