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Staff: Parking rate hikes could eliminate budget deficit

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Evanston city officials say the city’s projected $2.9 million budget deficit for next year potentially could be eliminated with a series of increases to parking fees.

In a memo to aldermen, Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie and Parking Division Manager Jil Velan outline the following possible options:

  • Eliminate the “first hour free” program at parking garages to raise an additional $185,000.
  • Eliminate free Sunday parking at parking meters to generate $575,000 in new revenue.
  • Eliminate free Sunday parking at parking garages to generate $110,000 in new revenue.
  • Increase the basic parking meter fee from $1 to $1.50 per hour to raise $1.56 million.
  • Increase increase commuter parking meter fees from $0.25 to $0.50 per hour to raise $135,600
  • Increase monthly permit rates at the Sherman Plaza garage from $110 to $125 to raise $148,500.
  • Increase surface parking lot permit fees by $5 per month to raise $38,880.
  • Add parking pay stations along the lakefront to generate about $550,000 in first year revenue after subtracting the cost of the new equipment.

All those measures together are estimated to generate nearly $3.7 million in new revenue for the city.

However, Storlie and Velan say they want to explore a “demand-based pricing model” for parking that would set the highest rate for the most convenient parking and lower rates for less convenient options.

They suggest that the parking garages, considered less convenient than on-street meters, might remain free on Sundays, because they are underutilized then, while on-street parking, often at capacity on Sundays, might have a charge imposed.

The memo doesn’t address any adverse impact a rate hike might have on traffic to local businesses and the sales tax revenue for the city that they generate.

But Storlie and Velan suggests that if meter and garage rates are changed, on-street parking restrictions in non-metered areas near business districts and train stations will need to be reviewed.

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