Duluth Parking commission will discuss meter rates again Tuesday
On Tuesday, Duluth's Parking Commission will resume its consideration of Mayor Don Ness's idea of increasing parking meter rates. The commission considered the idea June 10, after Ness announced his plans for trimming a $4.4 million budget defici...
On Tuesday, Duluth's Parking Commission will resume its consideration of Mayor Don Ness's idea of increasing parking meter rates.
The commission considered the idea June 10, after Ness announced his plans for trimming a $4.4 million budget deficit. Rates for meters downtown could double, from 25 cents to 50 cents for 30 minutes.
"We understand that the city is looking for every dollar they can get their hands on to combat this budget deficit," Commission chairman John Simpson said. "However, we're not in a position to make a decision until we've heard from all the stakeholders."
The commission can only recommend whether or not it believes the city should increase parking meter fees. The City Council would vote on any increase. If the rate remains unchanged, the city expects to collect $813,000 in parking meter fees this year.
"It's tempting to say if we double the parking fees we're going to have twice the revenue," Simpson said. "That might not necessarily be so" because if fees go up, people may use meters less.
The proposed fare increase is opposed by a majority of Greater Downtown Council members who responded to an e-mail from council President Kristi Stokes.
"These people don't want to see anything that could comprise their customer base," Simpson said. "We understand that."
Stokes wants to talk further with the commission about ideas such as exploring the possibility of creating more on-street parking or forgiving a shopper's parking tickets once a quarter or twice a year.
"We want to talk it through a little more and see if there is any common ground and any programs we can put together," she said. "We want to look at the overall picture rather than just a flat increase in parking meter fees.
"Parking is always an issue in any downtown," Stokes said. "We just want to make sure that it's customer friendly and not something that makes our customers want to go elsewhere."
While the commission is willing to listen to other ideas, the core of Tuesday's discussions will be on the rate issue, Simpson said.
"The mayor wants, in a timely fashion, the commission's opinion on the idea of raising rates," he said.
Tuesday's meeting is scheduled to run from 7:30-9:30 a.m., in the Minnesota Power building's auditorium.