Stillwater City Council to Discuss Parking Commission’s New Recommendations to Solve Budget Gap This Week

The Stillwater City Council will discuss the Parking Commissions new recommendation to address the downtown parking lots budget deficit during Tuesday’s council meeting at City Hall.

According to city records, the downtown parking lot system has an average budget deficit of $25,000 per year.

The downtown parking lot budget is separate from the parking ramp budget, which is also currently operating with a deficit. The parking ramp discussion will happen at a future date.

In order to cover that shortfall, the Parking Commission on Feb. 3 recommended that the City Council convert Municipal Lots 3-11 from “free” lots to pay lots.

The City Council agreed with the concept of converting to pay lots, but wanted the Parking Commission to reconsider the rates.

About two weeks later, the Stillwater Independent Business Association hosted a public meeting at City Hall for the proposed pay lot conversion.

Based on public testimony, as well as a flood of phone calls, emails and personal conversations, the Parking Commission on Feb. 19 reversed its recommendation of pay lots, and started working on another way to address the budget deficit without increasing the number of downtown pay lots.

The Parking Commission’s revised recommendation includes:

  1. Raising the monthly business parking permit fee from $10 to $15.
  2. Increasing the monthly downtown residential parking permit fee from $10 to $20.
  3. Raising the parking violation fine from $15 to $25.

“A recurring theme throughout the public testimony was that many business and property owners stated a preference for covering the deficit amongst themselves rather than passing it on to customers and visitors,” Community Development Director Bill Turnblad wrote in a memo to the council.

With that in mind, the Parking Commission first looked at raising the monthly fee for business parking passes from $10 to $15 — and increasing the downtown residential parking passes from $10 to $20.

The $20 downtown residential pass would also be required for purchase by seasonal residents (and their guests) living on their boats at the downtown marina.

Overall, the increase in monthly parking fees would generate about $4,700 in additional revenue, according to city documents.

As city staff re-examined the parking enterprise fund’s revenue streams, Turnblad notes that staff noticed there would be increased revenues in 2015 — and all subsequent years — related to the business expansion mitigation program.

In 2014, the city began sending out invoices to businesses that increased their parking needs, requiring businesses to pay a parking impact mitigation fee.

Prior to 2014, businesses paid on an “honor system” — but most business owners did not pay, according to city records. So, the city began sending invoices during the second half of 2014.

In the future these fees will increase because they will be collected all year around, and is expected to add about $6,100 to the revenue stream annually.

Together, the fees and the mitigation program would equal about $10,800, city records state, which falls short of covering the annual 25,000 deficit.

So the Parking Commission looked at increasing the fee for parking violations.

Increasing parking tickets from $15 to $25 would likely generate another $16,900, Turnblad notes. That, along with the other increased fees would account for about $27,700 in additional revenues, which would cover the average downtown parking lot budget deficit.

If the City Council agrees with the Parking Commission’s revised recommendation, city staff will work on formalizing the recommendation.

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