Netanya aims to get gov't funding for beaches

Two Netanya city councilors are planning to petition the Supreme Court to force the government to contribute to the NIS 18 million annual cost of maintaining and cleaning the city's beaches, reports The councilors say it is "absurd" that Netanya has the longest and possibly the best-maintained beaches in Israel, but is the only city not to get any direct or indirect government funding to help out with beach maintenance. According to the report, councilors Yossi Makluf and Shiri Heguel-Sidon are preparing a court petition to force the government to contribute "in one way or another" to the costs of maintaining Netanya's beaches. Makluf said the city spent NIS 18 million every year on cleaning, maintenance, life-saving services, security, development and other costs, and the sum was entirely borne by the city out of taxpayers' funds. By contrast, cities such as Herzliya, Tel Aviv and Acco have been allowed to set up marinas, restaurants or hotels on their beaches, which bring millions of shekels into their coffers, and Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Ashdod and Eilat all have ports that pay taxes to the cities. The report said that even Hadera benefits from the taxes paid by the Israel Electric Corporation located on its beach. It said Netanya was the only city in Israel that funded the maintenance of its beaches entirely by itself, and this despite having the longest stretch of beach in the country. "The existing situation is absurd... it is our intention to petition the Supreme Court with the aim of forcing the government of Israel to support and fund the maintenance of the beaches in one way or another," the councilors said. Meanwhile, another Netanya councilor, Herzl Keren, has proposed charging entry fees to beach-goers to help meet the costs of beach maintenance. Keren said he was proposing that Netanya residents be charged a fee of not more than NIS 10, while non-residents would be charged NIS 25. No response to the proposal was reported.