Orange Beach proposes Rental Fee increase via AL.com
ORANGE BEACH, Alabama — A boost in tourism has increased city expenses on the beach, and officials said they plan to raise condominium rental fees to cover the added costs of cleanup, lifesaving and other services.
Orange Beach City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to raise business license fees for the owners of rental condominium units from $85 to $130 a year.
Mayor Tony Kennon said the increase would raise about $200,000 a year.
“That would help cover what we spent on the beach,” he said.
The total number of Baldwin County beach visitors in 2011 could top 5 million for the first time, according to a report by Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Tourism. Kennon said those increased numbers come at a time when Orange Beach has reduced the number of city employees by more than 60 in the last three years.
“We had tremendous numbers on the beach this year,” Kennon said. “And it took tremendous numbers to maintain the beach.”
The mayor said the amount of litter collected by city workers this year also increased with tourist numbers.
“You would not believe the number of chairs, the number of tents that we had to haul off the beach, and it’s not our beach. That’s all state or private property,” Kennon said after the meeting. “We also started the beach patrol, which has been a tremendous success as far as lifesaving.”
Kennon said city officials spoke with local property owners associations about the need for an increase, and most owners understood.
“I think they see the effort, the time and what we’re having to do, and they recognize we cannot continue to go without a funding source,” Kennon said.
At the council work session, where the increase was proposed Tuesday night, no one in the audience or council spoke out against the proposal.
Councilwoman Pattisue Simpson asked Clara Myers, city finance director, to prepare a list of city services, such as litter removal and restroom cleaning, provided on the beach that could be funded with the money.
“There’s a lot of different things that we do on the beach that could be tied to this $200,000 and would help us justify asking people for what we need,” Simpson said.
Myers said the proposed increase would bring Orange Beach’s fees in line with those charged in other areas.
“The recommendation is to raise it to what Gulf Shores is, which is $130, as opposed to the $85 that we charge,” she said.
Myers said that if the council wants the increase in place for 2012, the ordinance needs to be passed at the upcoming meeting so the change can be included on fee notices going out in December.