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TITLE 31NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION
PART 1GENERAL LAND OFFICE
CHAPTER 15COASTAL AREA PLANNING
SUBCHAPTER AMANAGEMENT OF THE BEACH/DUNE SYSTEM
RULE §15.8Beach User Fees

(a) Eligibility. Local governments shall not initiate or amend a beach user fee unless the governing body of the local government with jurisdiction over the area subject to the fee has a state approved dune protection and beach access plan.

(b) Reciprocity of fees. Within each county, local governments are required to establish a state-approved system for reciprocity of fees and fee privileges among the county and the different local governments authorized to charge beach user fees. The establishment of a system of beach user fee reciprocity shall be a condition of state approval of local dune protection and beach access plans.

(c) Approval of beach user fees.

  (1) A local government shall not impose a fee or charge for the exercise of the public right of access to and from public beaches. A local government may charge beach users a fee in exchange for providing beach-related services to beach users in general.

  (2) The General Land Office will only approve a beach user fee if the fee is reasonable taking into account the cost to the local government of providing public services and facilities directly related to the public beach. A reasonable fee is one that recovers the cost of providing and maintaining beach-related services. In addition, any fee collected for off-beach parking to provide access to and from the public beach is considered a beach user fee.

  (3) Local governments shall not impose a beach user fee which:

    (A) exceeds the necessary and actual cost of providing reasonable beach-related public facilities and services;

    (B) unfairly limits public use of and access to and from public beaches in any manner;

    (C) is inconsistent with this subsection or the Open Beaches Act; or

    (D) discriminates on the basis of residence.

(d) Beach user fee plan. A local government that proposes a new or amended beach user fee shall first prepare and submit to the General Land Office for review and approval a plan that includes, at a minimum, the following information:

  (1) a description of the current beach access system within its jurisdiction demonstrated through evidence such as photographs, surveys, and statistics regarding the number of beach users;

  (2) a listing and description of all existing beach user fees charged by the local government and by all other local governments in the same county;

  (3) all legal authority for charging a beach user fee, including local ordinances that authorize the collection of existing beach user fees, and the proposed ordinances for a new or amended beach user fee;

  (4) an analysis and statement of how the proposed user fee is or is not consistent with state standards set forth in this subchapter for preserving and enhancing public beach access, including how the fee is non-discriminatory and how and where adequate free access will be maintained;

  (5) a detailed description of how the beach user fee is reasonable and how it relates to beach-related services such as beachfront amenities, vehicular controls and parking, and dune protection within the jurisdiction of the local government;

  (6) a report detailing the previous five years of beach user fee revenue and expenditures on beach-related services, if applicable;

  (7) an estimate of the projected beach user fee revenues and the expected budget for expenditures on beach-related services, including a description of how the projections and budget were determined, for the next five years;

  (8) a description of short-term and long-range goals relating to the collection and use of beach user fees and beach related services that will be provided;

  (9) a description of how access for persons with disabilities will be provided or enhanced;

  (10) a description of how the beach user fee will be collected and managed by the local government and an explanation of how the method of collection and management is consistent with the requirements of this chapter;

  (11) where appropriate, evidence of the cost to the local government of providing existing beach-related services and how the proposed beach user fee will maintain or enhance those or additional beach-related services; and

  (12) any other information required for the General Land Office to determine if the fee is reasonable.

(e) General Land Office approval and certification of beach user fees. A local government shall not impose a beach user fee or amend an existing beach user fee that is inconsistent with the beach user fee portion of its dune protection and beach access plan. To receive General Land Office approval for initiating its beach user fee plan or amending a beach user fee, a local government shall submit its beach user fee plan to the General Land Office no later than 90 days prior to any local government action on the beach user fee. The General Land Office shall certify whether the initiation or amendment of a beach user fee is consistent with this subchapter and the Open Beaches Act, as provided in §15.3(o) of this title (relating to Administration).

(f) Beach user fee revenues. Revenues from beach user fees may be used only for beach-related services, as defined in §15.2 of this title (relating to Definitions). For each fiscal year, a local government shall not spend more than 10% of beach user fee revenues on reasonable administrative costs. Administrative costs must be directly related to providing support for beach-related services, such as accounting, record keeping, some personnel services, insurance, and office costs such as rent, utilities and supplies.

(g) Recordkeeping and Reporting. Each local government shall send quarterly reports to the General Land Office on the collection and expenditures of its beach user fees.

  (1) The quarterly report must state the amount of beach user fee revenues collected and itemize itemizing how beach user fee revenues are expended. The General Land Office, at its own discretion, may prescribe reporting forms or methods. Reports are due no later than 60 days after the end of each quarter of the State fiscal year. The General Land Office may request additional information, as appropriate, to evaluate a local government's compliance with these rules and the local government's beach user fee plan.

  (2) Documentation sufficient to substantiate the proper collection and expenditure of beach user fees must be maintained by the local government. Such documents may include, but are not limited to, records of equipment use, payroll records, invoices, contracts, and proof of payment. Substantiating documentation must be kept by the local government for four years following the date the fees are spent. Documentation substantiating the collection or expenditures of beach user fees must be provided to the GLO within 10 working days of the local government's receipt of the request.

(h) Beach user fee accounts. Local governments shall use the following methods for administering beach user fee accounts.

  (1) Beach user fee revenues shall be maintained and accounted for so that fee collections can be directly traced to expenditures on beach-related services. Beach user fee revenues shall not be commingled with any other funds. Each beach user fee revenue shall be maintained in separate revenue accounts, or be separately tracked in the local governments accounting system.

  (2) Beach user fee revenues shall be maintained in a separate revenue account and documented in a separate financial statement for each beach user fee or shall have a unique revenue code and be documented.

  (3) Beach user fee revenue account balances and expenditures shall be documented according to generally accepted accounting principles.

(i) The General Land Office shall suspend the local government's privilege to collect fees and shall revoke approval of any pertinent section of a dune protection and beach access plan if the beach user fee revenues have been spent on services which are not beach-related services.

(j) Free beach access. Local governments that collect a beach user fee for on-beach parking or for off-beach parking for beach access shall maintain free public beach access by providing areas where no fee is charged for reasonably accessible parking on or off the beach and for pedestrian access in proximity to each area where a beach user fee is charged.

(k) Access for persons with disabilities. Local governments shall establish, preserve, and enhance access for persons with disabilities as provided by law, including §15.7(h)(5) of this title (relating to Local Government Management of the Public Beach). The General Land Office may provide guidance recommending additional measures to preserve and enhance access for persons with disabilities. Provisions for access for persons with disabilities shall be included in local government dune protection and beach access plans.

(l) Identification of fee and non-fee areas. For any local government collecting a beach user fee for on-beach parking, both fee and non-fee beach areas shall be conspicuously marked with signs that clearly indicate, at a minimum, the location of both the fee and non-fee areas and the identity of the local government collecting the fee. In addition, maps identifying fee and non-fee areas shall be provided to the public by any local government collecting a beach user fee.

(m) Coordination with other beach-related plans. The beach user fee plan shall be a part of a local government's beach access and use plan required under the Open Beaches Act, §61.015, any vehicular control plan required under the Open Beaches Act, §61.022, and any dune protection program required under the Texas Natural Resources Code, Chapter 63. The General Land Office requires local governments to combine and integrate these various plans.


Source Note: The provisions of this §15.8 adopted to be effective February 17, 1993, 18 TexReg 661; amended to be effective April 16, 1996, 21 TexReg 3004; amended to be effective January 31, 2010, 35 TexReg 489; amended to be effective May 8, 2023, 48 TexReg 2343

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