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Firms Unhappy with Proposed Fee Increases | News, Sports, Jobs - Fort Myers

Linda Miller, organizer of the Beech Baptist Church farmers market, said the fee increase in the town of Fort Myers Beach’s proposed budget would cost more than $12,000.

With the Fort Myers Beach City Council scheduled to hold a budget discussion on Thursday to discuss the possibility of raising fees for some businesses, the proposed permit fees could cost some business owners thousands of dollars. We are concerned that this may increase.

From the Beach Baptist Church and Santini Plaza Farmer’s Market to parasailing, beach chair and wave runner vendors, prices are set to increase by over 1,000%.

These are among the many fee increases proposed in this year’s budget, including price increases at the Bay Oaks Recreation Campus, registration fees for short-term vacation rentals, beach access wedding fees and history review permit fees. It also includes the new rates for

Linda Miller, who runs a small farmer’s market in Fort Myers Beach from October to May, estimates that increasing permit costs will cost her more than $12,000 each year.

Sharon Faircross, owner of Holiday Watersports, said it could cost more than $7,000 a year to do business in Fort Myers Beach, with new fees rising from $170 to $1,200 per permit. rice field.

Permit costs for parasailing businesses like Paradise Parasail rise from $170 to $1,200 for an annual permit from the town.File photo by Nathan Mayburg

Miller said the fee hike was not something she could accept. “Vendor fees cannot be raised because of all the competition. Vendors will go somewhere else. The market will die.” Miller said in one of several emails sent to town councilors ahead of this week’s meeting:

Miller said her permit application was submitted in June but is on hold pending a proposed rate increase. In addition to the town’s proposed fee increase, Miller already had to pay an increased permit fee to the Fort Myers Beach Fire District.

Lee County’s fees for WaveRunner vendors not located in Fort Myers Beach have remained flat at $170 since 1993, Faircloth said. “Also, a Lee County business tax license, which must be renewed annually, is only $50. It seems like we’re treating it like a lottery for seats, a way to bring in some extra income for the town.” Faircross said.

“If the new rates are passed, my business license with the town will go from $810 a year to over $7,000 a year just to do business. That’s an exorbitant amount for a government-issued license. .” Faircross said.

Miller said she felt like her business was subject to special event permit fees for regular event fees, based on the Fort Myers Beach Manager’s town comments. Roger Hernstadt at the City Council in August. Miller said he believes the toll increase is being used to pay for some pay raises and other spending measures for town officials.

In response to a question, Hernstadt said in an e-mail: “The town council will decide on the town council fee.” He pointed out that other local governments in southwest Florida are charging similar or higher rates than the town was proposing.

“We are aware that jet ski and parasail rates have not been adjusted since 2016.” Hernstadt said. “If the town council decides it is too costly, much of the cost of oversight and enforcement will fall on property taxpayers.”

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy said he has received an email about the fees and expects the town council to discuss business permit fees and Bay Oaks on Thursday.

“No one is happy” Murphy said. “Who?”

Murphy said he has not yet decided whether or how the fees will be adjusted and would like to hear from other council members.

“No one wants to see fees go up.” Murphy said.

Ginger Weber, who runs Mid Island Water Sports Inc., said: ‘The justification was not there’ to increase permit fees in a letter to the town council.

“The first year a property applies for a permit, we take extra time to measure the property to make sure we can create a proper sitemap. All relevant paperwork included a copy of the updated policy listing the town as an additional insured and the property stating that the applicant was the operator they chose to contract with. It was $100 a year after that, along with a copy of the letter from the owner, since it was a copy from the previous year.” Weber wrote. “Calculating the increase in fees due to salary/administration inflation is certainly fair. Please don’t raise these fees to $1200 a year.”

Weber said her business includes beach chairs and umbrellas, beach raking and other services at many of the condominium developments at the southern end of Fort Myers Beach. That part of the island includes a large walking path from the development to the beach.

“Many people are older and cannot carry their beach furniture when they go to the beach. We are a service that condos rely on. We couldn’t individually justify constantly watching our umbrellas due to above concerns. Some resorts need more year-round and both should lower prices to provide services that make Fort Myers Beach a friendly place to visit No. These are the services we want to offer to attract visitors and owners to their property and ultimately bring revenue to the town of Fort Myers Beach.” Weber said.

The proposed toll increase comes at a time when the town is repaying a $10 million loan taken for plans to overhaul the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus, renovate the newly completed Bayside Park, and renovate Times Square. will be split. The town is also paying millions of dollars for water main projects. The town council is also discussing the possibility of spending more on reporting with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and plans to keep money in the budget for lighting projects. of Bay Oaks said it is increasing the need for rate increases.

Chase Hussey, who runs Paradise Parasail in Fort Myers Beach, said he would cut the proposed rate increase. “Astronomical increase”.

Hussey questioned the validity of getting a $170 permit one year and $1,200 the next.

“If the town is trying to make money off of our licenses and permits, that’s the problem.” Hussey said. “I understand there is a cost. I just want to know how they justify it.”