Reducing Sauble Parking Rates Will Increase Taxes for All TSBP Residents

Craig’s Commentary 3-5

Editor:

Rob Gowan (March 4 Owen Sound Sun Times) reported:

“The [Sauble] chamber has gathered statistics from the town on paid parking and they are showing that the increase in rates is not leading to an increase in revenue. Between 2009 and 2010, when the rate increased from $10 per day to $15 per day, the amount generated through the town’s ticket dispensers actually dropped from more than $230,000 to just over $200,000.”

This is terribly misleading. If you look only at 2009 and 2010 data, it indeed might appear that higher daily parking rates give lower revenues. But you can’t just pick the data that you like and ignore the rest. It’s called data cherry-picking. You need to look at all the data.

And if you look at all the data, the picture is quite the opposite of what Mr. Gowan claims.

Pardon the science, but for those who are keen, here is the data properly presented.

Figure 1 is a line chart of revenues from dispensers and daily rates.

Figure 1

The pattern is clear. The higher the daily parking rate, the higher the revenues.

Figure 2 is the same data presented in what is called an x-y chart.

Presentation1

The line on the x-y chart is called the linear regression line. That it is upward sloping means that when daily rates go up, generally revenues from dispensers go up.

The value labeled R2 on figure 2 is called the correlation coefficient. If the data points were all right on the upwardly sloping the, the correlation coefficient would be one. It would mean that revenues were perfectly correlated with daily parking rates.

The actual correlation coefficient is fairly weak, indicating that there are other things besides daily rates that affect revenues. (Like weather, gas prices).

But regardless, what is clear is that the data, that is all the data, indicate that revenues increase as daily parking rates increase.

In addition, the data (figure 3) are clear that the higher the parking rate, the fewer cars there are paying for parking.

Figure 3

This means fewer cars parked on our streets. And fewer tourists on the beach. And lower cleanup costs. And lower law enforcement costs. Surely these are good things.

So the data, properly analyzed, suggest that if we raise daily parking rates, we will generate more revenue, and we will have lower beach cleanup costs, (both of which mean lower taxes), and as a bonus we will have fewer cars parked all along our streets, and less litter, and fewer people on the beach, and less noise.

Higher parking rates are saving us money and helping us get our community back. (Killing the Sauble sewers project got us much of the way there.)

In asking for lower parking rates, the tourist industry is in effect asking for us to pay more taxes, and is asking for another handout from all the residents of TSBP.

The residents are entitled to have their taxes go into legitimate services. The residents are entitled to have their money not forcefully taken from them and given to commercial interests. The residents are entitled to choose whether or not they wish to donate to the tourist industry.

Council is not authorized to choose for us.

Council should reject the proposal to lower parking rates.

Council should raise daily parking rates instead.

Craig Gammie
Town of South Bruce Peninsula

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8 Responses to Reducing Sauble Parking Rates Will Increase Taxes for All TSBP Residents

  1. yabder4 says:

    The elephant in the room is parking on the South Side of the beach. I have noticed that the majority of tourists I talk to have decided that rather than pay to park on the street and walk to the beach, it’s worth it to pay for parking ON the beach. The rest of the story could be told if you were able to get revenue numbers from SON. I have talked to some tourists that commented they had to drive 2 km down the beach to get a spot on one weekend. It didn’t matter that they were there because the beach was the same, they had brought their beach picnic, AND they backed up to the water so their kids could sleep in the car. Beat that!

    • cgammie says:

      Yabder:

      The issue is TSBP parking fee policy. The south beach is not part of the town. The issue is not south beach parking fee policy. So what is the elephant in the TSBP room?

      Craig

  2. Pat Radice says:

    Hi Craig, I resent that whenever anyone makes any suggestion to change anything in this town, the answer is always it’s going to increase taxes. I don’t recall my taxes going down when the town introduced paid parking. As you well know taxes went up considerable over the last few years. Also I haven’t seen any improvement in services on the beach from the revenue generated from the parking. The beach is still disgusting with garbage after a nice weekend. There are no additional washrooms either. I know that the town will say that they added garbage pickup twice a day on the weekend. I have sent several letters to the works department that this isn’t working. They pick up garbage early morning when the barrels are overflowing and garbage is already all over the beach. Then they pick up again at approximately 2:00pm when the barrels are still empty. They need to pick up after the majority of the people have left the beach ( say after 6:00 pm) It’s like washing the dishes before you have dinner. It doesn’t work. Why can’t our elected leaders see that. Then they have to pay students to go around and pick up garbage on the beach. It’s a joke. Whatever revenue they generate from parking is being wasted anyway.

    • cgammie says:

      Pat:

      If you had followed the budget discussions, you would have heard residents proposing changes that could result in lower taxes than would otherwise be. Like ending the illegal grants to the chambers of commerce. Like ending the illegal payment of private citizens’ legal fees. Like ending the waste of money on the airport sinkhole.

      Parking revenues do not even come close to paying beach costs. All TSBP Taxpayers are paying the difference.

      True your taxes did not go down with paid parking. But they are lower than they would be without it.

      Are you saying that you are OK with higher taxes?

      Craig

  3. Saubleboy says:

    Thank you Craig for keeping these issues transparent . Having all the information is what makes a better world , not just in Sauble Beach , but across this earth .I am so uplifted with the simple act of honesty .Maybe we can actually get on with real decisions based on fact , not twisted for the benefit of a few , no matter who they are . That includes us , the residence, and stakeholders of Sauble Beach , and the world .
    Again ..thank you soo much for your straight forward approach in all of this . It is so refreshing !

  4. Zibis says:

    I think there’s a piece missing in this analysis and that’s all the cars that park on the streets near the beach that are not paid parking streets like mine for example. So I think, although I have only anecdotal data, that the reduced number of cars shown in the graphs is actually due to the fact people are resistant to paying the higher parking fees when they can park for free on other nearby streets and walk to the beach in only a few more minutes’ time. So the garbage on the beach and all other related costs to beach maintenance are not related directly to the number of cars who pay for parking but instead related to the total number of cars parked.

    I do agree however that it appears by the data that increasing daily parking fees will increase revenues – unfortunately I also believe that the number of people on the beach will remain largely constant or maybe increase slightly and raised fees will simply drive more people to park their cars on non-paid parking streets. So revenue will remain relatively flat or may even decrease because there’s a limit above which people will simply not pay. It’s called value for money paid. At $20 a pop I think the value a tourist to the beach would see is not worth the extra few minutes’ walk if they can park on off paid streets. The beach maintenance will still cost the same and the downside is simply more cars on streets further back from the beach and my taxes will increase to boot to offset the lower total parking revenue. That is unless they make all the streets west of Sauble Parkway paid parking streets.

    • cgammie says:

      Zibis:

      So why not paid parking everywhere west of the parkway?

      Craig

      • Zibis says:

        Yup! That’d be OK by me. The risk, of course is, that some homeowners won’t have enough parking on their own property for weekend visitors who would be forced to park on the street. But that can also be easily solved by granting exemptions. We do that in my home town with a simple phone call to the municipal office who issue an exemption which you put on the dash of your car with a licence plate number, an expiry time and a registration number . Enforcement officers check the registration number to see if it’s a valid exemption. If not, infraction tickets are issued.

        Incidentally I read all the comments on the Owen Sound Sun Times article and there’s one from the president of the Chamber of Commerce with excerpts from a letter he received from a tourist about Sauble Beach parking fees. The interesting part in that comment was not that the tourist was complaining about the $15 parking rate but rather that the penalty for running overtime ballooned the his cost to $60. That comment should not be used to justify that parking rates should be reduced because people complain. That complaint was completely unrelated to the parking rate itself. That tourist would still have complained if the rate was $10 but the penalty ballooned it to $40. The problem to be fixed here is the ratio of the penalty being 3 times the parking rate and not the rate itself.

        On another note, if Sauble business owners believe that the parking rate is driving business away they should do what many businesses in many towns and cities do and that’s provide parking relief in the form of a discount – eg “show us evidence you’ve paid for municipal parking and we’ll give you a 10% discount” on purchases. People who pay for on-beach parking would not be eligible nor would local homeowners unless they paid for parking. That way if a tourist spends $150 cumulatively they’ll park for free for the day and still have full day use of beach facilities. To make this attractive a high percentage of businesses serving the day tourist trade would have to agree to such a program. Businesses not catering to the day tourist may participate at their option. Maybe the president of the Chamber of Commerce can show some leadership and float that idea to the complaining businesses?

        I agree also with some of the comments about beach amenities being less than acceptable for both waste collection and washroom/change room facilities. Parking fees that are collected should first be used for beach maintenance, upgrading of facilities and monitoring staff. I don’t mind that a portion of my taxes also go to beach maintenance because after all I also use the beach. Finding the right balance between the two is the trick to be accomplished.

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