NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — It might be more expensive to visit one of Rhode Island’s most popular beaches next summer.

The Narragansett Parks and Recreation Department is proposing raising daily walk-on and parking fees for Narragansett Town Beach.

The proposed price hikes would increase walk-on admission from $12 to $15, and parking from $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends to $20 every day.

Narragansett Parks and Recreation Department Director Michelle Kershaw said the beach’s operating income fell by $500,000 last season.

“I think raising fees is a necessity,” Kershaw told the Narragansett Town Council Tuesday night.

Kershaw said even though there’s currently more than $4 million in the Beach Enterprise Fund, there are still a number of reasons why increasing fees would be beneficial.

Those reasons include an increase in minimum wage and the cost for beach supplies and maintenance.

“Running the beach is not ever going to cost us less,” Kershaw said. “It’s only going to cost us more.”

Kershaw also argued that the Beach Enterprise Fund could be easily depleted if the beach were to fall victim to a natural disaster, such as a hurricane.

“If something were to happen like it did few years ago with [Superstorm] Sandy, we didn’t have enough money,” she said. “We had to borrow money from the town … we paid that money back, but we did deplete the [Beach Enterprise Fund].”

Increasing beach fees is necessary “to be able to sustain the [Beach Enterprise Fund],” according to Kershaw.

“If we don’t, the [Beach Enterprise Fund] is going to continue to be depleted,” Kershaw explained. “I just don’t think that’s how and why it was designed … The beach should be self-sustaining and self-supporting.”

Councilor Susan Cicilline-Buoanno explained that the money from the Beach Enterprise Fund “can only go back to the beach.”

“It can’t be used for roads or infrastructure or anything,” she said. “It has to be used for the beach.”

That’s why she believes the town shouldn’t just allow the Beach Enterprise Fund to accumulate surplus money, especially since $800,000 is already set aside specifically for emergencies.

“When there is extra money … it shouldn’t just sit,” Cicilline-Buoanno said. “It should go in and out of the fund. So, I really struggle with increases.”

The proposed increases aren’t set in stone, since the Narragansett Town Council has to review and discuss additional options before scheduling a vote.

In a statement, Narragansett Town Council President Ewa Dzwierzynski said she would prefer to explore other options before considering fee increases.

Dzwierzynski said councilors have several questions regarding the proposed increases that need to be addressed.

“My rationale in considering future rates will carefully balance the financial sustainability of the beach enterprise with ensuring the beach remains accessible and safe,” she said. “We are still evaluating this and I personally have not reached any conclusions.”

Cicilline-Buoanno said striking that balance is key.

“The beach is for everyone to enjoy,” she said. “We try to make the policies tight for our residents, but also offer opportunities for our visitors.”