It will soon cost an extra 10 cents per hour to plug most downtown parking meters.
On Monday the City Council approved a series of rate increases for downtown parking that includes raising the price of an on-street parking meter from 25 cents per hour to 35 cents per hour. Two weeks ago the council rejected a plan to double on-street parking fees from $25 cents per hour to 50 cents.
Parking rates will also increase in city-owned parking garages. Under the proposal approved Monday, rooftop parking would increase from $20 per month to $25; the price of reserved parking in garages would increase from $45 per month to $50. The cost of assigned spaces would increase from $50 per month to $65, eventually reaching $100 per month after five years.
The fee structure for parking in garages was the same fees that the council rejected two weeks ago.
As part of the plan, the council also agreed to reconsider the new parking fees within six months to determine whether they're raising enough money or affecting downtown business. The new rates won't go into effect until after the 2007 fiscal year begins July 1.
The new fees will be considered on second reading July 10.
In a related issue, the council approved a $6.6 million contract to Fisher Construction to expand the Park 2 parking garage. City officials said the new parking structure will generate enough money to pay for the bonded indebtedness used to finance the parking garage expansion.
After rejecting the new higher parking fees last week, the council asked staff to come up with a new plan that would charge higher fees for spaces in the most popular parking garages. But the council later rejected that plan.
Brenda Burkhartsmeier, who chairs the City Parking Advisory Board, said she was frustrated when the council rejected the board's recommendations for parking fee increases two weeks ago.
The board developed the proposed fee increases after holding 12 public meetings and gathering comments from dozens of people.
She said the advisory board often backed off of making any significant changes to parking policy, fearing they would be too controversial.
Burkhartsmeier said the "courtesy tickets" issued to first-time offenders should be scrapped. Also, people who have amassed hundreds or thousands of dollars in unpaid parking tickets should be turned over to a collection agency.
"If you want the committee to give you our advice, you need to come to our meetings," Burkhartsmeier said.
Bruce Simon, a downtown property owner, urged the council to hold the line on increasing the rates for on-street parking meters. He said it's unfair for people who park on the street to pay higher rates when the extra revenue is being used for building a new parking garage.
Council members Ed Ulledalen and Nancy Boyer said downtown parking rates must be balanced to serve the needs of both downtown shoppers and downtown workers.