CRESTVIEW — Starting April 1, Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport will begin charging an $8.50 daily parking rate for both short- and long-term parking.

That rate matches the airport’s current short-term parking rate. The current long-term parking charge is $7.

In April, customers will continue to be able to park for free for up to 10 minutes. The rate for parking from 11-60 minutes will be $1.50, with a charge of $1.50 for each additional hour.

Those rates are part of VPS’s new, five-year parking management contract with Republic Parking System that the County Commission unanimously approved on Wednesday. The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based company has provided services for VPS since 2008.

The airport operates 1,673 public parking spaces with total annual parking revenues exceeding $3 million, according to county information.

In its new contract, Republic Parking System will be paid about $456,000 annually to provide parking management services. That amount covers the company’s expenses and includes its management fee, which is 2.5 percent of the airport’s net annual revenue.

Included in the contract are plans for complete upgrades to the airport’s antiquated and failing revenue-processing parking equipment and systems.

County Airports Director Tracy Stage told the commission that about $634,000 worth of improvements will be made by March 31. The upgrades include new parking gates, ticket dispensers, signs, booths and technology, as well as two new passenger vehicles “for pickups and drop offs from your trunk to the curb,” according to Stage.

While Republic Parking System will pay up to $60,000 of the total cost, the bulk of the upgrades will be paid for with airport revenue.

“All new equipment must be installed by March 31, prior to our peak season start,” Stage said.

Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel said VPS is the fastest-growing airport in the United States and that parking issues have been among its growing pains.

“We have a long-term plan to provide more parking,” she said.

Additional parking spaces will be added soon on the east and west sides of the terminal, and the airport has plans to build a parking garage, according to Stage.

In other business Wednesday, a majority of the commission approved allocating up to an additional $1.5 million for the East Pass dredging/beach restoration project. The overall project is expected to cost a total of up to $3.5 million worth of county bed tax money.

The work could begin by early March and be completed by early May.