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Council to entertain increase in parking meter rates

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton A parking meter rate increase is expected to be before Warren City Council at its Dec. 14 meeting.

An increase in the meter fees for downtown Warren parking will go before Warren City Council

Council discussed multiple aspects of the city’s parking program during a Thursday budget session.

Up first was permit parking that council had previously approved for Crescent Park and Fourth Ave.

“We are now creeping into neighborhoods for permit parking,” Mayor Maurice Cashman said. “My view, the goal was always to keep it in the core of downtown where the businesses are so that we would generate turnover… for the benefit of the businesses.”

He said he’s afraid that implementing the permit parking in those areas will just push employee traffic further into the neighborhoods.

Police Chief Joe Sproveri said the downsize of some businesses and work from home nature of others have resulted in fewer cars being parked on Fourth Ave. He said he’s not recommending implementing the permit spaces.

Sproveri said parking lines were painted on Fourth Ave. which has made parking “cleaner and more organized.”

Discussion then pivoted to the meters.

“If we want to do our best to not raise taxes,” Sproveri said, “we should consider raising the meter rates. (That is) something I believe we should revisit.”

Councilman Gregory Fraser asked if that would be a substitute for lost revenue from the permit spaces and Sproveri noted it’s hard to say what revenue the permits would have generated.

He added that meter fees would be “more substantial and effective” and fairer.

Councilman John Wortman asked why council would pull back on already-approved permits spaces when discussing a tax increase.

$30,000 was projected for permit increases on the revenue side Department of Public Works Director Mike Holtz explained that a raise in meter rates to $70,000 would generate an additional $40,000 — $10,000 when the permit revenue is removed — or $80,000 at $1 per hour, $50,000 when the revenue for permits is pulled out.

The fee issue is expected to be brought to the council meeting in December. That meeting is currently set for Dec. 14.

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