Meter matters measured Parking ticket revenue drops 50 percent

By on December 4, 2013

By:

PATRICK BURNS Record Express Staff

, Staff Writer

Could parking fees be on the rise in downtown Lititz … again?

Officials want to change parking meter plates that currently display inaccurate info to downtown visitors who may be confused when to stop feeding the meter.

But paying for the cost to change the meters, including labor, may require another rate hike from the current fee of 50 cents per hour, said Karen Weibel, council president.

Sgt. Kerry Nye of the Lititz Borough Police Department said downtown meter plates are especially confusing on busy Friday nights because signs instruct visitors to pay the meter until 9 p.m.

Nye said police long ago complied with a request (from the General Sutter Inn owner at that time) to not ticket cars parked past 5 p.m. on Friday, "so we haven’t for years."

"Is that confusing? Yes," Nye said. "It should be addressed. People worry and have to run back to put money in the meter that is not necessary."

Lititz raised meter rates in the spring from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour. A nickel gets you 12 minutes, and a dime nets 25 minutes on the meter.

Revenues from parking meters rose so far this year to about $32,000, up from $17,000 in 2012.

But revenue from tickets from expired meter fines unexpectedly dropped to $8,000 from $16,000 a year ago, said Sue Barry, borough manager.

In October, Lititz raised tickets for overdue parking at a meter to $15 (up from $10). Other parking violations are $20.

Weibel said the initial increased parking fee revenue went to pay for about $3,500 in costs to change the 115 meter plates to reflect the new rates.

That is likely to occur again if meter plates are changed to reflect the Friday night 5 p.m. enforcement time, she said.

"It’s not that meter plates cost so much, it’s the labor to replace them," Weibel said.

Venture Lititz in 2011 partnered with the borough to receive a grant to pay for a $27,000 parking study conducted by Walker Parking Consultants, said Kelly Withum of Venture Lititz.

"The outcome of the study suggested getting better signage, different meter enforcement, and different rate structures so that we could put money aside to do other things with parking," Weibel said.

What would those "other things" be?

"Potentially buying or leasing a lot and opening that to the public," Weibel said.

In the meantime, Weibel asked councilman Kevin Zartman to consult with the streets and traffic committee to re-examine the parking issue and analyze why parking meter ticket revenues unexpectedly decreased after rates went up.

More PARKING METERS, page A19

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