Columbia considers increasing downtown parking rates, enforcement hours

Monday, April 4, 2011 | 5:50 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Columbia residents and visitors might have to start paying more for downtown parking starting in May. A bill that would increase meters rates and extend the hours of enforcement of meters is scheduled for an introduction and first reading at Monday's City Council meeting.

The increases would be used to pay for the construction of the parking garage at Walnut and Short streets. If passed, all on-street parking meters would be 60 cents an hour, according to the proposed ordinance. It would increase garage hourly rates in parking garages from 50 cents to 60 cents an hour. Downtown parking rates currently range from 30 cents to 50 cents.

In addition to rate increases, on-street meter enforcement hours will extend until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Hours of enforcement are now 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The changes would take effect May 2.

If passed, meter rate increases and enforcement hours extension are expected to generate $249,000 for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year and an annual $597,000 in future years. 

Mayor Bob McDavid said he was not in favor of increasing meter prices but it is the only way to cover the costs of the new garages. He expects the bill will pass.

Columbia resident Gary Tatlow said while he does not want to pay more, he understands the necessity. 

"Money is tight," Tatlow said. "There are few ways we have to pay for new parking garages. I would hate to have to take out money from official law enforcement or any other governmental operations."

For some who rely heavily on meter parking, the change is not as easily accepted. 

"I work downtown," said Mariah DeYoung, a Columbia College student and employee at Geisha Sushi Bar. "I'm always paying meter prices. I don't know if I would appreciate (a meter rate increase)." 

On March 1, fines for parking violations increased from $5 to $10, if paid within 15 days and $15 to $25 if paid after that time, according to a previous Missourian article. These fines are expected to add $100,000 to this year's fiscal revenue.

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