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Newport might be sitting out when it comes to memorial benches and other park donations

Newport Beach might suspend its donation program for park trees, benches and other fixtures as installation and maintenance prove to require a significant amount of time and money.

The City Council during its meeting Tuesday will consider a request from staff to suspend and evaluate the program, which typically places the trees or fixtures as memorials underwritten by friends and families.

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A staff report for the meeting says maintenance and management of the donation program requires “unanticipated large amounts of time” and some areas are becoming overcrowded with placements, especially when it comes to benches. The cash donors pay toward their donated items, which includes a 10% maintenance fee, are also not covering the actual cost to install and maintain them. It’s unclear from the report how much the expense gap is, or how many hours the city puts into the donation program.

Trees and benches, with dedicatory plaques, are the most common donations that dot parks, beaches, trails and streets. Other amenities can include drinking fountains, picnic tables and barbecue grills. Costs vary widely, from $650 to $3,300 for a bench, $1,500 for a tree and $9,000 for a drinking fountain.

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Also during the meeting, the council will discuss fire, community development and other departmental cost-recovery fees after a study recommended some city fees go up, others come down, and others stay the same, be eliminated or created.

Two services are proposed for an increase: “basic life support” ambulance rides and basic paramedic responses that do not require transport to a hospital. Those could increase from $1,403 to $1,516 (8%) and $300 to $400 (33%), respectively.

The cost of “advanced life support” responses with ambulance transport would drop slightly, though, from $1,617 to $1,545 (4%).

Overall, city staff, the finance committee and the city’s fee study firm suggest 74 fees increase, 12 drop, six stay unchanged, 38 be eliminated and 33 be added to the fee schedule.

Tuesday’s council meeting starts at 4 p.m. with a study session, followed by the regular session at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 100 Civic Center Drive.

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