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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 1:00 am

Parking fees to increase

Council OKs hike for new meters

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, 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 fees need to increase to cover the cost of connecting 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 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

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 said that even with the proposed fee increase, Fort Wayne's prices will still be lower than most. Indianapolis, Keesling said, charges 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. 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 whether Keesling would be willing to review the fees in a year to determine whether they should be reduced.

Keesling said she would be happy to do that and noted that her office will have more data to work with than is available from 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 (in) 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.”