SANDPOINT — For the first time in more than 10 years, parking fees are set to increase.
The first city meeting of 2013 was a brief one Thursday night, with council members taking only minutes to pay the bills and approve a Feb. 13 public hearing for a line of fee increases in preparation for the new parking enforcement system under Diamond Parking. Enforcement is expected to begin within a week’s time. No fee increases will occur until after the public hearing is complete.
Daily parking fees will remain the same at $3. However, monthly parking permits are set to increase from $25 to $29, a 16-percent increase. The same percentage applies to an annual parking permit fee, which increases from $250 to $290. The fees haven’t been raised since the daily fee for the parking lot was set in 2001 and the monthly permit was established in 2002.
The decision will pave the way for Diamond Parking to begin work enforcing downtown parking requirements in Sandpoint. The enforcement will occur six days a week with free parking on Sunday. Motorists will still be able to access two hours of free parking but will need to pay either the daily rate or secure a longer-term pass, which will now be good for use in any city-owned lot, for any parking beyond that time. The company will also offer other services like complimentary assistance should a driver have a dead battery, a flat tire or some other common dilemma limiting their ability to move.
Parking has been unregulated since the city disbanded its municipal enforcement officers from the police department earlier this year. By switching to a partnership with a private company, city officials hope to generate some revenue this time around as opposed to the previous system that brought in more expenses than income. If the generated revenue is sufficient, city officials may use the extra money to maintain parking lots.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the council approved the parking fee increases. That decision will not occur until after the public hearing.