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We Hope Council Members Tread Lightly On Downtown Businesses Right Now

It’s too early to tell right now if Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s compromise plan to increase parking fees and elimination of two-hour free parking spaces while giving people 20 minutes of free parking will be approved by the City Council.

As part of his 2021 budget proposal Sundquist proposed eliminating the two-hour free parking spaces downtown, increasing the cost of parking at a meter from 50 cents to $1 an hour and a host of fine increases for parking violations. Parking related revenue in the budget proposal is to increase $519,000 than what was budgeted in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s unknown how much the compromise plan changes those projections.

We give the mayor credit for going back to the drawing board after his original plan was pilloried by business owners. Sundquist could have stuck to his guns and taken an all-or-nothing approach. He has taken the right approach by changing his proposal to allay one of the big concerns expressed by council members and the community.

Council members have articulated concerns about changing parking fines and fees at all during the pandemic, with those concerns given by both Republicans and Democrats. We echo those concerns, and have our own additional concerns about charging for parking in downtown ramps overnight, but frankly the opinions that matters the most are those of downtown business owners — and many still aren’t happy.

We hope council members tread lightly on downtown businesses right now. They don’t need another piece of bad news right now.

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