Orange Beach finalizes golf cart ordinance

By Melanie LeCroy / melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 11/24/21

After months of public input and revision the Orange Beach City Council finalized and unanimously approved the golf cart ordinance which goes into effect March 1, 2022.

Due to the way the law was …

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Orange Beach finalizes golf cart ordinance

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After months of public input and revision the Orange Beach City Council finalized and unanimously approved the golf cart ordinance which goes into effect March 1, 2022.

Due to the way the law was written at the state level there were very few adjustments the city could make. The three areas the city could change are hours golf carts are allowed to operate on the roads, registration fees and the duration of the registration.

“I want to be clear. We have read the law, our legal team has read the law over and over and they have researched the law and we have some parameters of what we can do,” said Councilperson Jeff Boyd. “The state mandates a certain level of parameters. Those parameters are things like brakes, windshield, blinkers, liability insurance, headlights. They leave an opening for a time. It says a municipality may adjust the time from sunrise to sunset, so it gives us some leeway. Where it does not give us leeway is on the age of the driver.”

In previous council meetings, Boyd mentioned the possibility of allowing youth that possessed an Alabama driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement and boat endorsement to drive golf carts in Orange Beach. After consulting with the city attorney, it was determined that would not be possible due to the way the law is written.

The city council discussed the final changes to the ordinance and consulted with the residents in attendance regarding curfews and fees.

Boyd proposed setting the golf cart curfew to 11 p.m. due to the feedback he received from his constituents that felt 10 p.m. was too early. Jerry Johnson, Annette Mitchell and Joni Blalock agreed to the 11 p.m. curfew. Mayor Tony Kennon, however, did not agree with a curfew for adults at all.

“My problem is why are we telling adults when they have got to take their golf carts home? I do not care when they go home. I mean they are adults,” Kennon said. “I would hate to take a golf cart to Oso’s and then have to sit and watch my watch like Cinderella because we are going to turn into a pumpkin if we aren’t home by 11 p.m.”

The council also tossed around the idea of a curfew for teen drivers. Municipal Judge Chris Callaghan was in the audience and alerted the city council to the fact that teen drivers already have a curfew under the Alabama graduated driver’s license. Stage II restricted license drivers are prohibited from driving between the hours of midnight to 6 a.m. The council decided to remove the time restrictions completely from the ordinance.

The final topic up for discussion regarding golf carts was the registration fee. The council agreed that $150 for three years was high. Jeff Silvers, Jerry Johnson, Annette Mitchell and Joni Blalock agreed that $75 for three years was a fair price that would help cover some of the city’s costs. Boyd and Kennon suggested a fee of $25 for three years. The council was surprised that the residents in the audience felt $25 was too low.

“We give back to the community in a thousand different ways. Building a brand new adult fitness center is no different from giving someone a golf cart registration for $25. It comes out of our general fund, money that we give back to the community,” Kennon said.

In the end the council came to an agreement on all the terms. A motion was made to amend the ordinance with the removal of the restricted operating times and a reduction of the nontransferable three-year permit fee to $75 with no refunds. A motion was made to adopt, and the ordinance passed unanimously.

When the Orange Beach golf cart ordinance goes into effect March 1, 2022:

  • The nontransferable three-year registration fee will be $75 with no refunds.
  • Golf carts will have no restriction on operating times unless the driver has a restricted Alabama driver’s license.
  • Golf carts will only be permitted on city streets with a posted speed of 25 miles per hour or less and will need to follow all traffic laws.
  • Golf carts are not permitted on Canal Road, Highway 161, Perdido Beach Boulevard, Orange Beach Boulevard and Marina Road.
  • Each cart will be inspected to ensure that it is equipped with head lights mounted no higher than 36 inches, brake lights, turn signals, a windshield, a rear-view mirror, efficient brakes and reliable steering apparatus.
  • Permitted carts must display an assigned number on each side below the front seat of the cart in a contrasting color no smaller than 4 inches in height.
  • Golf carts must be covered by a policy of liability insurance held by the owner.

To review a full copy of the ordinance, visit orangebeachal.gov.

Budget

Orange Beach Finance Director Ford Handley gave an update regarding the 2021 budget and 2022 budget. Handley said he expects the city will come in $4 million under budget on the general fund.

“The conservative estimate by year end, we will be up $20 million. From a capital standpoint we budgeted $23.2 million and we spent $24 million. That is $810,000 more than we budgeted but that also includes the $10 million citizen beach we did not budget for and that is still very positive from a standpoint of year-end surplus,” Handley said.

Handley went on to say that he anticipates about $20 million to $22 million in surplus. The city’s liquid assets stand at $45 million in the general fund and the reserve is at $29 million.

The proposed 2022 citywide budget is $103 million. The budget includes:

  • $36 million on general fund operating expenses
  • $11 million that covers the city debt and health insurance
  • $44.5 million in capital projects
  • $10 million increase in general fund revenues and $5 million of that will be reimbursements from Federal Emergency Management Agency that will go into the hurricane reserve.

“We have a very small town feel and community, but we are looking at $100 million. We are not a small town operations wise. We have a big budget and lots of employees,” Kennon said. “I do want to brag and I want everyone to spread the word. We came in under budget, our directors came in under budget and every department at budget in some of the most difficult times and that is extremely appreciated.”

The city has a full slate of capital improvements planned that include building fire stations, renovating the police station and road improvements.

“The list is extremely long of things we need to update much because of our growth as just the age and useful life of our buildings and things we are doing. That money is spoken for in a lot of ways but it is going to go back into the community as much as we possibly can and every way that it can. We are going to continue to be fiscally responsible,” Kennon said.

During the regular council meeting, the council:

  • Passed a resolution authorizing a one-time payment of $2,000 to full-time employees that have satisfied the one-year probationary period up to Nov. 16; $500 for full-time employees still in their probationary period and $500 to current part-time employees as of Oct. 25. This payment is set to be paid in November 2021.
  • Passed a resolution awarding the bid for sewer force main from Canal Road to County Road 12 to R&B Contracting Company, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $5,924,221.20.
  • Passed a resolution extending the entertainment district to SanRoc Cay Marina / Perdido Beach Resort.
  • Passed a resolution extending the entertainment district at The Wharf.
  • Passed a resolution authorizing a franchise agreement for Island Time Limousine, LLC, to operate limousine service within the city limits and police jurisdiction of the city of Orange Beach.
  • Passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of two UTVs for the Sportsplex through Sourcewell in the amount of $23,624.98.