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Parking fees in city may increase

October 24, 2013 News Extra

The city’s parking authority is considering an increase in parking permit rates to cover the additional cost of the planned Centre City parking garage.

While the city still is exploring financing options to pay for the roughly $3.5 million garage, the authority at its meeting Thursday included the estimated extra cost for the new garage in preliminary discussion of next year’s budget.

The proposed 225-lot parking garage would accompany the new Marriott Springhill Suites Hotel and Rite Aid pharmacy downtown as part of the Centre City project.

The most talked about scenario for the city to finance the garage is through a bond issue.

City Treasurer Jeff Smith said in his monthly report to the authority that the extra financing would probably cost an additional $65,000 per year.

Smith said in his report that to cover the cost without raising taxes, it would be necessary to increase parking permit rates throughout the city, unless the city could reduce its annual contribution from the authority to $100,000.

The city, which will begin preparing its budget next month, received $160,000 from its lease agreement with the authority in 2013.

Jim Chiprean, the chair of the authority, said the board could not speculate on how much parking permit rates would go up, but did say there is a good chance they will.

“Nothing’s set in stone,” he said.

The parking authority has 576 parking permits in the city. About 450 of those permits are used each month.

The price of a permit is $50 per month, except in the East Cunningham Street lot, where it’s $40.

Chiprean said the board can’t go forward too much with its budget until the city plans its own budget.