Volusia County to consider lowering beach tolls

The Volusia County Council is set to discuss beach tolls and parking at their meeting on Tuesday.

"We have these toll booths and in the busy season, cars will back all the way up to A1A. It’s not safe, and it’s just not a good appearance for Volusia County," he said.

As it stands, the price to drive or park on the shore is $20 for everyone who doesn’t have an annual pass. According to council member Jeff Bower, removing the cost altogether is under consideration. "Twenty dollars to park or to drive on the beach is not a huge deal, but if we remove it and say you’re welcome. Please come," he said. "I think it helps people to feel welcome."

Another council member, Danny Robbins, has expressed concerns about how the lost funds will be accounted for if the price is lowered or eliminated. Brower said there are several methods by which the council can make up for those funds. The first of which is with raised parking prices in the few Volusia County areas that have paid parking.

The council could also approve using the bed tax or advertising income to fill the gap. The annual revenue from the tolls is around $8 million. 

Beachgoers in Daytona Beach were split on the issue of removing the tolls. 

Alex Abbs was visiting the beach from London. According to him, the $20 charge is reasonable. He said, if anything, the cost should be lowered rather than eliminated. He believes the charge adds a level of structure to the shore. "I think if you remove the pricing you’re probably going to end up bringing all kinds of different people," Abbs said. "It’s going to lead to other kinds of chaos."

Others, like Michael Himo Wang, expressed concerns about the payment. Wang spent part of his afternoon at the Daytona Beach shores. "I saw that they wanted 20 bucks for a one-day pass," he said. "I decided to, you know, park my car on the side of the street [and] walk to the beach."

At the core of the discussion is bringing more traffic and business to the area. Wang believes the removal of the charge will be beneficial in that regard. "More people are going to come to the beach and more people are going to the town and they are going to bring us more business," Wang added.

Brower agreed. "The benefits to Volusia County is a busy beach, bringing more visitors, spending money on A1A and Main Street. All areas where retailers have suffered," he said.

A final decision may not come Tuesday.