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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 8:10 pm

Council votes to increase parking fees

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

In a unanimous vote tonight, the Fort Wayne City Council approved increased fees to accompany new parking meters that will be installed citywide starting next month. 

City Clerk Lana Keesling, who oversees parking control for Fort Wayne, has previously said the fees need to increase to cover the cost of cellular data to connect new meters to the city's network. The new meters will also accept credit cards and mobile payments and the higher fees will cover those costs as well.

The new rate is $1 per hour. It currently costs 50 cents per hour to park at a metered space from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

On Tuesday, Keesling said no modifications will be made to the current analog meters and prices will not actually increase until the new machines are installed. Meters are expected to ship at the end of March. Installation will begin April 19 and take two weeks, Keesling said. 

Parking control collected $257,000 in meter fees in 2017. That's about 314,000 transactions throughout the entire year, Keesling said. She noted that when comparing the proposed fee increase to other cities, Fort Wayne's prices will still be lower than most. Indianapolis, Keesling said, charges anywhere from $3.50 to $8 an hour depending on the parking space.

Two councilmen expressed concern over doubling fees all at once. Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, wondered whether the new fees could be phased in over time. However, Keesling said that wouldn't be possible. 

"With the cost that we're going to incur, the monthly fees for the new meters and with the cost we incur for every charge card that is used and every app that is used at the meters, I would prefer to just go straight to the $1," Keesling said. "I think that's the better option." 

Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, asked if Keesling would be willing to revisit the fees in a year to determine whether they should be reduced.

Keesling said she would be happy to revisit the fees in a year and noted that her office will have more data to work from than was available with the existing meters.

"Obviously now, our meters are dumb meters in that they're manual, so we get absolutely no information other than the coins we collect from them," Keesling said. "With the new meters we have a whole back end system that we can tell what the occupancy rates are, what the turnover rates are, how much we're making coins versus credit cards so we'll be able to give a lot more data."

Test meters have been on the street since last March, Keesling said, adding that officials from her office have reported positive feedback from residents. 

"People when we were installing them last March were very excited about the opportunity," she said. "We've had several people walk into our office excited about the opportunity. I had some businesses on Wayne Street fighting because they wanted the test meters in front of their stores instead of on Berry Street."