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Talking parking meters

City officials consider increases

July 14, 2010 | 09:04 AM
Some elected city officials believe parking in downtown Lake Geneva is maybe too inexpensive.

Aldermen Frank Marsala and Todd Krause said it's typical to see at least $3 per hour parking in other tourist type of municipalities around the country. In Lake Geneva, parking currently is 50 cents per hour.

"Personally, everywhere I go, it's $3 per hour parking," Krause said. "Here it seems awfully cheap and it's something to look at in the future."

That is one reason members of the City Council discussed Monday night during the Finance, License and Regulation Committee meeting the idea of raising parking meter rates to $1 per hour.

City Administrator Dennis Jordan said that is the charge necessary to fund the use of state-of-the-art pay stations throughout the downtown area. Currently, there is one pay station being used in the city as a test.

Jordan said it would be difficult to pay the monthly fees for the stations with the current meter rates. He said the problems arise because the city only collects major revenues from the meters for seven months of the year. He said free two-hour parking affects the revenues as well.

Jordan said if the city were to install the parking stations, which is a project included on the Tax Incremental Financing District No. 4 project list, the city would lose $35,000 to $40,000 per year leaving the parking rates at the current level. During previous discussions about pay stations, estimates were that they would cost about $500,000.

"The increase would be so we can break even and receive the current revenue that we have been receiving," Jordan said.

But, Marsala and Krause voiced opposition for an increase to "break even."

"I guess I wasn't looking at raising rates just for the system," Krause said. "I was looking to raise revenues for the city."

Krause said $1 per hour for parking is charged at some meters in the village of Fontana.

"I don't think an increase is going to break anyone's bank," Krause said.

However, Alderman Tom Hartz voiced concern about a possible parking meter rate increase.

He said room and lakefront revenues are dropping and increasing parking rates could affect tourism.

"People are voting with their pocketbooks," Hartz said. "I would be worried about piling on."

Marsala said he was in support of the meter system experiment to "see how people would take to it."

But he agreed with Krause.

"I have no issue to go up to $1 per hour for extra revenues," he said. "But, I'm not sure about raising it just for paying for the new system. That would be a hard sell."

Alderwoman Mary Jo Fesenmaier asked Jordan to provide a written analysis of rates in surrounding communities as well as detailed numbers regarding the monthly pay station fees and the difference between revenues and expenditures.

"It would be helpful to have something in print," she said.

Fesenmaier also suggested the Parking Commission create a citywide master plan to deal with all the parking issues, including meter rates.

But, for Krause, the discussion, which he placed on the agenda for the meeting, was about the money.

"I am looking for greater revenue to help out the taxpayers," Krause said.

The issue will go to the Parking Commission, but the FLR Committee recommends meter rates.

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