As part of last year’s annual review of city parking, Rehoboth Beach officials decided to make all meters $3 an hour. The change paid off.
The city’s budget runs from April 1 to March 31, and this year’s budget included $5.6 million in projected meter and parking permit revenue – $4.65 million from meters; $950,000 permit.
According to a late summer report, the city ended up earning about $7.5 million – about $6.3 million from meters; $1.2 million from permits.
“That’s pretty good,” June Embert, parking service supervisor, said at a commissioners’ meeting Oct. 21.
In addition to changing meters, the city also simplified the season — from the Friday before Memorial Day to the second Sunday after Labor Day, May 15 through September 15.
Embert said the dates were much easier to remember and there hadn’t been a lot of rush to issue permits the previous Friday. There were still people coming in, but there wasn’t a big line at the door, she said.
It wasn’t mentioned in the report, but in an Oct. 26 email, Acting City Manager Evan Miller said the city had also collected about $800,000 in meter and permit fines to date. . Last year, he said, it was about $840,000.
In other departments, Police Chief Keith Banks and Beach Patrol Captain Jeff Giles reported busy but generally safe and productive seasons.
Banks said that between May 27 and September 5, there was an 8% increase in emergency dispatches.
President Joe Biden has visited his North Shore home six times this year for a total of 21 days, which translates to 315 person-hours and 42 shifts at a cost of more than $27,000, Banks said. The city is reimbursed, he said. The report was delivered the afternoon Biden arrived on Oct. 21 for his seventh visit this year, so all of those numbers went up.
There were also 48 special events or construction work that required 114 additional shifts totaling 453 hours of coverage, Banks said.
Giles said there have been 94 saves this summer, 59 assists, 318 missing or lost kids, 277 wheelchair requests, 3,141 canopy takedowns and 121 EMT calls.
The two men’s overriding problem was finding nearby affordable housing for police cadets and lifeguards.
Banks said it was difficult to find seasonal rentals, as most renters now do annual or weekly rentals.
“That’s what they keep telling us,” Banks said, saying a group of four cadets spent $26,000 summer living in the Long Neck area. “The reality is that if something doesn’t change, the program will just fade away. We cannot continue no matter what we place the hourly wage at.
It’s really hard to have lifeguards here with a place to rent and stay, Giles said.
Banks said another problem with finding cadets is that there are fewer people wanting to become police officers. No matter how much publicity it did, the ministry couldn’t fill out the full list of summer aid, he said.