Parking Rate Changes Should Be Broached Earlier In Year, With Smaller Increments
City Council members are right to take a second look at Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s proposal to double street parking rates from 25 cents to 50 cents per half hour.
The timing is poor, with inflation running rampant. Doubling parking fees downtown is just another squeeze on people who don’t need one more hand taking more money out of their pocket.
And downtown business owners don’t need one more reason for people not to come downtown and frequent their establishments.
We will admit, though, that parking rates can’t stay at 25 cents for a half hour forever. It would be unrealistic to think that parking rates should remain that low forever. The problem comes with the way the rate increase is handled. Rather than discuss it with council members earlier in the year, the rate increases have been slipped into the budget and found later — placing the hot potato firmly in the hands of the City Council.
“Sadly, I was surprised by it that they actually doubled it without a discussion with council first,” said Kim Ecklund, R-At Large and Finance Committee chairwoman. “That’s a 100% increase right there.”
Assuming the council removes the rate increase this year, perhaps Sundquist should broach the idea with the council much earlier in 2023. And, rather than a huge increase, consider a series of phased increases that boost city revenues without doubling parking rates in overnight.