Officials say sales of annual passes to use Port Washington commuter...

Officials say sales of annual passes to use Port Washington commuter parking lots have plummeted during the pandemic.  Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Annual commuter parking fees in Port Washington will nearly triple in five years, a measure town officials called necessary to make up the funding gap created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the new schedule approved by the Town Board Dec. 17, annual passes will go up from $240 to $700 by 2025. Monthly vouchers will increase to $40 in 2021 and $60 in 2022. Daily fees will be raised by $1 to $3 in 2021.

The $460 hike will be phased in over the next five years. In 2021, the annual permit will cost $400. Then it will go up each year by an additional $75 until the rate reaches $700.

Before the board’s vote, Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte said she had received mixed feedback from constituents.

"Some have thanked me for trying to preserve the Port Washington Parking District in maintaining the exclusive parking arrangements for Port Washington commuters," she said. "And some have been disappointed that this is happening."

Dalimonte reiterated the new rates were put in place to ensure Port Washington residents have exclusive access to the district’s commuter lots.

"If I do not make up the shortfall, the district would have to dissolve and what would happen is it would fall under the Town of North Hempstead’s general fund," she said in an interview. If that happens, "anyone in the Town of North Hempstead [has] the right to apply for a permit and park there."

With a 2021 budget of $1.2 million, the town-operated district runs 12 lots and 544 on-street meters.

This year, permit purchases and meter fees plummeted, leading to a projected deficit of $600,000, which will be mostly covered by a fund balance of $523,243, officials said.

"We are not looking to gouge anyone," said town spokesman Gordon Tepper. "The increase in fees is clearly, directly related to the pandemic and is being done specially in efforts to retain something that Port Washington residents have had for quite some time and they don’t want to lose."

In a Dec. 10 newsletter to her constituents where she first made the proposal public, Dalimonte said the new fees would match that of the Manhasset Park District, which charges $700 for an annual parking pass.

The Great Neck Park District charges $785 for annual permits and $75 for monthly passes. But rates are much lower in the other two Nassau towns. Residents in Hempstead pay $10 for a one-year sticker to park in most commuter lots, and those in Oyster Bay pay up to $120 a year.

Depending on future revenue, officials said the new schedule may not be permanent. Dalimonte said the incremental increase would allow her to reexamine the district’s budgets and revisit the rates.

"I promise all the commuters in Port Washington that once we have overcome our shortfall that I will stop increasing the annual commuter parking fee," Dalimonte said.

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