Parking Fee, Ticket Hikes Eat Up Small Tax Reduction
Mayor Eddie Sundquist proposes to save the owner of a $70,000 house about $12 a year on city taxes in 2021.
That’s a laudable step, until you realize that if that homeowner works downtown, the savings are going to be quickly eaten up in the form of new parking fees in about six weeks. Someone parking eight hours in a metered space downtown spent $1,560 a year in 2019. In 2021, they’ll spend $2,080. So an average homeowner’s $12-a-year is replaced by the average person’s $520 a year.
In addition, Jamestown will have an additional 150 parking meters in spaces that had been marked free while eliminating two-hour free parking. If our hypothetical business owner owns a downtown business, that business owner will be paying an additional $150 a year to participate in the city’s Business Owner Parking Permit program. Enjoy the $12 savings on your property taxes — because you’re getting $150 in additional parking fees for your business.
We won’t say Sundquist’s plan comes with no thought. Increasing meter fees is proposed both to keep parking spaces turning over throughout the work day as well as to ultimately pay for parking meters that can accept payments by smart phone. Increasing parking fines is another way to discourage people from parking all day in spaces meant for shop customers. Both of those end goals make sense, but talking about property tax relief that doesn’t amount to a tank of gas each year while costing most people an extra few hundred dollars a year in fees isn’t exactly relief, either.
By the way, looking at the comparable cities Jamestown is using to justify its increased fees, we’d be shocked if this isn’t just the first such parking fee increase. The city is going up a quarter to $1 an hour. It’s comparables range from $2.25 to $3. Don’t be surprised when those parking meter fees jump up again soon.