Got coins? City OKs increasing hourly parking fees 43 percent

The City Council on Tuesday approved increasing the hourly parking meter rates by an average of 43 percent, effective Aug. 1 or sometime thereafter, whenever new parking meters are installed.

The median or composite hourly parking meter rate would increase from 42 cents to 60 cents an hour.

“We’re still below the average (for similar cities at $1.17 an hour),” said Amber Blake, the city’s multimodal director.

The higher rates are expected to increase parking turnover and pay for more convenient and technologically advanced meters that can take payment from credit cards, smartphones and prepaid cards.

The increased revenue also is expected to help the city plan for infrastructure improvements such as a parking garage downtown.

The city expects to increase revenue by $145,000 from the new rates, but because the new rates are going into effect mid-year, the city anticipates increased revenue of only $60,500 for 2013.

The council will look at rates a year later to see whether they should be decreased or increased.

Parking tickets, or citations, will not change.

In other business, the council approved leasing Buckley Park from Durango School District 9-R for 10 years for $1,000.

The school district would still be able to use the park for school activities, but the city would also be able to use the park for special events.

Under the lease agreement, beer and wine could be served during the special events overseen by the city.

In a change for special events, event organizers will no longer be required to spend $600 to sponsor free public transportation during their event. The fee proved “burdensome” to organizers, who typically host special events as fundraisers for charitable causes.

The city also is lowering its fee for an after-hours traffic-control plan from $360 to $250 for special events. It is also slashing its fee for setup of pedestrian barricades from $65 an hour to $30 an hour for weekends and after-hours.

The decrease in costs reflects the efficiency of transferring the responsibility of special events from code enforcement to parks and recreation.

In other business, the city is transferring $390,000 from its fund balance to cover higher-than-expected costs for capital improvements to the Durango Recycling Center on Tech Center Drive.

City Manager Ron LeBlanc said the Recycling Center was a victim of the popularity of the new single-stream recycling program. The capital improvements should save money in the long run by preventing future maintenance problems.

“Pay it forward so we don’t have to come back later on (to pay for costs),” Councilor Dick White said.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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