Howard Gold, a Garden City resident, asked Town Council members to lower fishing rates on the Surfside Beach Pier for senior citizens and children.
Gold said he could afford to fish from the pier more frequently if senior rates were available, and the town could likely lure more people if prices were adjusted for senior citizens and children.
But, he didn’t get his wish.
Councilwoman Mary Beth Mabry explained the town is tied to a contract that doesn’t expire until 2017 and can’t make changes to the rates. There was no vote, but council decided against the notion.
“Unfortunately we have a contract and we simply have to abide by the contract that we have with the lease holder with the pier,” she said. “There’s really no way to adjust the rates until the lease is up.”
Other piers on the Grand Strand charge rates similar to those in Surfside Beach.
The Garden City Pier to the south doesn’t have discounted rates for seniors, neither does the Second Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach. The pier at Myrtle Beach State Park, the closest north of Surfside Beach offers discounted rates for seniors, but requires an admission fee at the gate.
Daily bottom fishing licenses at the Surfside Beach, Garden City and 2nd Avenue piers costs $9 plus tax. In Garden City, children’s daily licenses cost $4.50 per person.
Surfside Beach charges residents half price for all fishing licenses.
Councilwoman Beth Kohlmann said she’d also like to see the $1 spectator fee to walk on the pier disappear. She said people coming to town are already paying for house rentals or hotels and dining and that it would be something nice to give back to them if they could walk on the pier for free.
Children 7-years-old and under, residents and non-resident property owners are not charged to walk on the pier.
The revenue received by the town is used for repairs and improvements on the pier including the new ramp which is currently under construction, Fellner said.
In 2012, fishing revenue brought $110,535 to the town while the spectator fee made $49,905.
Town Council briefly discussed attempting to renegotiate the contract.
Councilman Randle Stevens said it never hurts to try, but that it probably wouldn’t work.
“To negotiate anything, we have to have a willing negotiator on the other end,” he said. “Unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Councilman Rod Smith said he’s not sure the town could afford to change the prices until the pier is paid off. He said he’d like an update on where the town stands with paying for the pier at the budget retreat next month.
“We need the revenue to not only keep the pier in repair, but we also have to pay back the town,” he said. “Until we can get the pier paid off I think we should leave the prices where they are.”