There may have been a coin shortage this past summer, but it wasn’t because loads of quarters were sitting in Rehoboth Beach’s parking meters.
According to Evan Miller, city projects coordinator, quarter-based parking meter revenue in Rehoboth Beach has dropped approximately 90 percent since 2016 – from $1.42 million to $157,000 in 2021.
Miller presented Rehoboth’s end-of-year parking statistics for summer 2021 during an Oct. 4 commissioner workshop. He said the interesting statistic on quarters reflects a couple of things – wider use of the ParkMobile app and an effort last summer by the city to promote touchless payment because of COVID.
The decline in quarters is not reflected in total parking-related revenue. Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce President Carol Everhart has been reporting for months that throughout the 19971 ZIP code, including downtown Rehoboth, the hotel occupancy percentages have been in the high 90s. That’s what Rehoboth Beach’s parking revenue reflects.
The city budgeted for approximately $5.57 million in parking-related revenue this season, but brought in closer to $5.78 million – $4.64 million from meters and $1.11 million in permits. The roughly $200,000 surplus comes during a season when the city instituted Meterless Monday and allowed 89 parking meter spots to be used for pedestrian walkways and to-go dining for restaurants.
Miller estimated the city lost $125,000 in revenue from Meterless Monday and, assuming 100 percent occupancy, a maximum of about $345,000 from the walkway and to-go spots.
Miller said parking meter revenue is less than in summer 2019 – the year city officials are generally using to compare its projected budget because summer 2020 was so unusual – but total revenue is slightly higher because the difference is made up in permit revenue.
Earlier this year, the city put meters at the Grove Park parking lot, which Miller said garnered about $14,000 in revenue.
As for revenue from parking fines, the city, as of Sept. 30, is roughly $74,000 under the budgeted amount of $745,000. Miller said this revenue changes every day as people pay fines.
Miller also reminded commissioners the city has changed from single-head meters to multi-space pay stations. Over the past three years, the city has removed all 1,449 single-head meters and installed 123 multi-space pay stations. All of the new stations take quarters. Miller said the new stations are more efficient, provide real-time data, are easier to maintain and reduce street clutter.
Beach patrol end-of-year statistics
Immediately prior to Miller’s report, Beach Patrol Capt. Jeff Giles presented his end-of-year statistics.
Giles, in his first year as captain, said the main goal – no drownings – was achieved. He said there were a couple of serious injuries, but the lifeguards responded appropriately and lives were saved.
There was a great group of lifeguards this year and the city should be very proud, said Giles, adding that summer next year looks very bright.
Giles said there were 105 saves, 78 assists, 232 reports of missing or lost children, 317 wheelchair requests and 89 significant emergency medical technician calls.
Similar to parking revenue, the beach patrol has an interesting statistic – 2,214 canopy takedowns. Giles said that number only represents weekend enforcement, because that’s when they were able to staff a person for enforcement.
Giles said one thing he wants to try and tackle this winter is a better way to mark the jetties as off-limits. He said significant lifeguard time is spent keeping the water around the jetties clear of people.