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Aurora totalling up cost of change in downtown parking

Auroris selling its old parking meters.  |  File photo

Aurora is selling its old parking meters. | File photo

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Updated: February 19, 2013 11:43AM

AURORA — Aurora’s new downtown parking plan — with parking meters replaced by designated free parking zones — is moving forward slowly as questions are raised about the cost.

The City Council Finance Committee last week delayed voting on the proposal, and moved it back to its agenda for Jan. 22.

Alderman Lynda Elmore, 10th Ward, said she had more questions about the expenses associated with implementing the new parking plan.

“I want to see what the total looks like,” she said. “We obviously are not going to break even in 2013.”

City Chief Development Officer Bill Wiet said removing parking meters and adding new street signs in the downtown will cost about $100,000, to be funded through tax increment financing dollars. But that cost does not include improvements to the Stolp Island parking deck and other new parking equipment the city budgeted for in 2013, he said.

The parking revamp of the city’s 7,000 spots downtown — which includes the spots for the Aurora Transportation Center — is expected to be completed by the middle of this year.

Officials estimate the new parking plan will initially bring in $22,000 less than the meters-based system, when comparing the two street parking systems alone, Wiet said.

The city brought in about $206,000 in meter fees in 2011. Officials anticipate to make up about $175,000 of that through increased parking permit fees and increased parking fines under the new plan.

Under the meter system, the city brought in about $100,000 in parking fines.

But Wiet said that adding the savings that will come from automating the Stolp Island parking deck would put the city past the break-even point in the long run.

“That’s a savings but that’s not included in the analysis,” he said.

Under the proposed plan, a first parking ticket would be $5. Now, the first ticket is a free “warning” ticket. In 2010, the city issued 13,000 free parking tickets.

If the Finance Committee designated the first parking ticket be $10, the city would also bring in more revenue under the new plan than the meters-based system, Wiet said.

In addition to eliminating the parking meters downtown, Wiet said the plans calls for the downtown to be divided into zones — platinum, gold, silver, bronze and mercury — each indicating the amount of time a car could be parked at the location before it was fined. Parking would be 90 minutes in a platinum zone; 2 hours in a gold zone; 3 hours in a silver zone; six hours in a bronze zone; and 10 hours in a mercury zone.

Parking will be free within the allotted time, which would be marked with street signs.

Current rates at metered spots on the street, or in city parking lots range between 15 cents and 25 cents an hour.

Wiet said some Downer Place business owners have expressed concerns about a 90-minute zone on Downer, and would prefer a 2-hour zone.

Elmore said one of the complaints she’s received about the plan is it may not accommodate parking for a City Hall meeting.

“In terms of (the) City Hall building after the 6 p.m. time frame, that’s where I see issues coming into play,” she said.

Wiet said the parking zones are a work in progress.

The city would increase on-street enforcement hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Off-street parking lots would be enforced 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Lot names would be eliminated and each lot would be assigned a letter of the alphabet, Wiet said.

Currently, parking is enforced from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Wiet said until about 2003, meters were enforced until 8:30 p.m.

The Finance Committee will continue consideration of the parking plan at its meeting on Jan. 22.

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