JAMESTOWN – Members of the Jamestown City Council are expressing concern over a recommendation from Mayor Eddie Sundquist that would raise the parking meter fee to $1 an hour in the City starting Jan. 1.
Multiple members, including Councilwoman Marie Carrubba, explained why the resolution made them hesitant during a City Council Work Session last night. Carrubba, who represents Ward IV, says that, after listening to concerns from business owners, she’s concerned that the increase in the rate could be a detriment to the Downtown economy long-term.
“I understand the need to generate revenue, but I’d hate to see it drive out businesses that aren’t going to get people coming because they don’t want to pay for parking, especially right now with the number of people that are unemployed and are financially disadvantaged because of this (the pandemic),” Carrubba said. “I think it’s a tough thing to discourage people from coming down…”
Carrubba notes that the rate, under Sundquist’s proposal, would double from the current rate of $0.50 an hour. That’s a 100 percent increase, which Councilwoman Vickeye James says she’s also concerned with.
Councilwoman Kim Ecklund also weighed in on the recommendation. She says her main issues involve the idea that people would need to put in four quarters, rather than two, despite the fact that there’s a nationally-recognized coin shortage due the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sundquist says part of the reasoning behind the increase is because the City is exploring a transition into an app-based meter feeding system to cover a transaction fee. The resolution, which he says will potentially double the revenue from parking meters, says that a mobile pay solution would be provided in November as part of a separate resolution.
“They’re not going to use the app-based (system) and go up to the meter and be forced to put in (required information).” Ecklund said. “I’m in favor (of the technology). and I agree with it from my perspective, but it’s not just about me. We have elderly residents that I have concerns about being able to utilize that system. So how do we manage that?”
The Mayor’s Executive Assistant, Zach Altschuler, says that the meters will remain the same, but stickers containing instructions on how to download and use the app would be placed on the meters. However, he says coin-based meters would still be available.
The resolution wasn’t tabled, meaning the Council should vote on it during its Voting Session October 28th.