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Jun 9, 2009 5:34 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Beach sticker fee is raking in money

Jun 9, 2009 5:34 PM

The new $25 beach permit fee in East Hampton Town has few fans, but it is raising money at a breakneck pace and town officials believe it could soon bring in the $250,000 budgeted as revenue from the new program.

According to Town Clerk Fred Overton, nearly 10,000 permits have already been sold, and the town had already raised $185,220 through beach sticker fees as of June 5. He said that the town just ordered another batch of 5,000 beach stickers and expects to go through them quickly.

“People are waiting in line when we get there” to get beach stickers, he said of the Town Clerk’s office.

Though the first permit costs residents $25, additional permits and those for seniors cost $15. Mr. Overton estimated that the town is taking in $3,500 per day in beach permit fees.

Mr. Overton was concerned earlier this spring after he received a number of calls from real estate agents and summer residents who wondered why they couldn’t purchase temporary laminated stickers for use on rental cars.

He said that many people had claimed in years past that they were property owners in East Hampton who rented cars to get back and forth from New York.

Members of the Town Board have said they were skeptical of that. They questioned if the permits had been used for summer rentals, share houses, and other ways to circumvent the proper channels for obtaining a beach permit. As long as the permits were free, the town turned a blind eye to the practice. This year, said Mr. Overton, the laminated permits will not be issued at all.

Now that Memorial Day has passed, Town Police have stopped giving drivers without new beach stickers warnings and are issuing tickets, which Town Supervisor Bill McGintee said he believes will be an incentive for more residents to come in and buy their permits.

“Most everybody that’s been coming in doesn’t have an issue with it,” said Mr. McGintee of the permits. “It seems to be working out reasonably well.”

Mr. Overton also said that other areas of the town’s revenue stream seem to be on par with or higher than last year. He said that his office has seen an uptick in revenue of $190,000 over last year at this time, though $185,220 of that is for the beach stickers. He added that the town has rented all of its boat slips for the summer, while at this time last year there were some vacancies.

The building inspector’s office reported a record intake of $109,000 in the month of May. That department budgeted $800,000 for revenue this year and Mr. McGintee said that it is well ahead of pace in meeting that goal.

Town property taxes were due on June 1, though the town’s tax receiver, Monica Rottach, said that it is too early to tell if more people are having difficulty paying their taxes on account of this year’s 24-percent tax hike.

While she said that the phone lines in her office have been busy, she would not comment on whether her office was busier than last year at this time.

Mr. McGintee said that he is not concerned about non-payment of taxes as much as he is concerned about the 1,400 tax grievances that were filed with the town before the mid-May deadline. He is awaiting the outcome of those grievances to determine whether tax allocations will have to be changed markedly in the near future.

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