By Marjorie Nesin
---- — As diehard beachgoers jam sun umbrellas into the back of closets and pack towels away in totes, city employees taking a last look at the beach revenues from the summer of 2013 are finding that, though parking revenues fell behind last year’s pull, the parking dollars leave Gloucester in a good place.
This summer’s take of $1.61 million falls roughly $40,000 short of last season’s nearly $1.65 million, but exceeds the 2011 summer’s parking revenues by just over $100,000. The city typically collects parking revenues from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to Public Works Director Mike Hale.
“It’s all really weather-based,” Hale said. “It’s just a really busy day, the difference of a weekend, between this year and last year.”
The city consistently collects the highest portion of beach parking revenues from Good Harbor Beach, with Wingaersheek not far behind and a smaller portion of the money coming in from Stage Fort Park beach parking.
A rainy start to June set the city’s beach revenue about $145,000 behind the previous year just before the last weekend of the month, that weekend being a scorcher that ramped up the season’s revenue. July and August held strong after that.
“I remember at the beginning of June being concerned whether we would reach the budgeted amount,” the city’s auditor Kenny Costa wrote in a letter to city councilors, referring to the total for fiscal 2013, which ran only through June 30. The $1.61 million figure is for the calendar year season of May to September, but the figures can be telling heading into the second of the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30, 2014.
Costa expects the city to pull in about $3 million “free cash” out of the last fiscal year, with beach revenues that came in over budget contributing to that pot. Mayor Carolyn Kirk budgeted for $1.4 million in beach revenues for 2013, and the beaches slid comfortably past that goal at the close of the fiscal year in June, totaling in at over $1.5 million for the fiscal year. The mayor set the expected beach parking revenue for the current fiscal year 2014 at $1.45 million.
While critics have said the revenues in general have “under budgeted,” Public Works Director Hale supports the mayor’s approach on beach revenues.
“Beach revenue is one of those very, very difficult things to project,” Hale said. “It’s irresponsible to over estimate beach revenues knowing it could rain.”
As for next year, according to Hale, revenues could look bright for Gloucester. While the June’s beach parking revenues nudged the fiscal year 2013 take in past its budgeted mark, a hot July and August set a high bar for fiscal 2014.
“We had a nice July and August 2013,” he said; “If we can couple that with a nice June 2014, that’s a great fiscal year.”
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.