Having a beer in a Modesto park soon could cost you, and not just if you're arrested for drinking without a permit.
The city is considering a $10 charge for the permits that enable people to drink alcohol in parks without risking arrest on a misdemeanor Municipal Code violation.
Charging for the permits wouldn't do much to fill Modesto's $4.8 million general fund budget shortfall. The parks department estimates that the proposed fee would bring in just $6,430 in a year.
That charge would offset some of the city's costs to process the permits, though.
"It's not a lot of money, but at least it's a token to make up the difference," Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department Director Julie Hannon said.
People who rent space in parks would continue to get an alcohol permit at no cost with their reservations, Hannon said.
The impact likely would be felt by some homeless or unemployed residents who pick up alcohol permits and spend a day in a park.
"For most of the people, I don't think it'll matter," Hannon said. "For some of the folks who are a little less well off, they might not come down and get one."
People can get alcohol permits from the parks department on the fourth floor of Tenth Street Place or from the Police Department.
Hannon didn't know how many people got alcohol permits through the Police Department last year. Police spokesman Sgt. Brian Findlen did not return a call for comment.
The City Council in January 2008 elevated penalties for drinking in parks to a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine or time in jail. Previously, the offense was an infraction that would not have led to an arrest.
The City Council's Finance Committee will consider a wave of budget cuts and potential new revenue at 9 a.m. today in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2366.