• Montpelier parking fee boost is one option for revenue
     | January 17,2013

    MONTPELIER — The city has identified the doubling of rates for certain parking meters and lot permit fees as a possible solution to a parking revenue shortfall.

    The city’s proposed budget assumes parking fees will increase. City administrators have discussed the possibility of increasing fees at some parking meter and city lot areas while identifying numerous ways to tackle an issue that will require City Council approval and likely involve public input.

    City officials stressed that no decisions have been made.

    “It’s conjecture at this point,” City Manager William Fraser said about the fee increases described. “We’re having an internal discussion about ideas.”

    The city’s parking fund is projected to have a $50,000 shortfall, but the Police Department has identified a way that could bring in slightly more than $105,000 in the next fiscal year if all of the parking lot and meter ideas were implemented.

    In a Dec. 6 email between city administrators, Facos detailed possible rates. The largest revenue builders would be increasing the meter rates to 75 cents an hour, from 35 cents, at the Blanchard Court lot, which is between the Rite Aid Pharmacy and First in Fitness, and the 60 State St. lot, where the Saturday farmers market occurs.

    Those two changes alone could generate $45,600 and $22,800, respectively, more than enough to make up the shortfall.

    Other ideas included increasing monthly permit rates for lots at 60 State St., Blanchard Court, Pitkin Circle behind the firehouse and Stone Cutters Way, as well as a lot behind the Main Street bottle redemption center. The email also mentioned the North Branch or Jacobs lot, which is behind State and Main street businesses including Positive Pie 2 and One More Time.

    According to the email, monthly fees could go from $50 to $100 at 60 State St. and Blanchard Court, $40 to $70 for seven parking permits for a lot behind the Main Street bottle redemption center, and $70 to $100 at North Branch. A yearly rate for five Pitkin Circle spots could go from $262 to $325.

    Meters along Stone Cutters Way were also mentioned for a potential doubling of rates, to 50 cents per hour.

    None of the rate increases is being proposed currently. The process requires City Council approval, and the city could hold hearings on the issue.

    Police Chief Tony Facos has suggested to the council that the fee increases would be difficult for many parking users to accept, but he also said the measure brings Montpelier in line with other municipalities in the state.

    The idea comes as the city staff has worked under City Council guidelines to keep the overall budget and tax increase within the rate of inflation.

    Due to other priorities, though, the city does not plan to address the issue until March or April, after the Town Meeting Day budget vote.

    Most of the rates in the parking areas outlined have not been changed since 2004.

    david.taube @timesargus.com

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