Nevada City resumes parking meter fees

After suspending parking meter fees in June, the Nevada City Council has opted to resume collection while continuing to suspend enforcement action.

The council last month passed a resolution suspending fees, which would have remained in effect until the COVID-19 state of emergency declaration is lifted. However, on Thursday it determined the revenue the parking meter fees brought the city was greater than the potential incentive suspension provides for patrons.

According to City Manager Catrina Olson, many people parking in front of meters were still paying the toll despite the suspension, which she said was not well advertized.

“We don’t know where we’re going with this (pandemic and financial crisis),” Mayor Erin Minett said. “Honestly, every cent helps at the moment.”

Last November the council increased fees from 25 cents to 50 cents, expecting to increase parking meter revenue from about $100,000 a year to a projected $270,000 per year.

However, due to financial constraints stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the city has since downgraded its expectations, anticipating $90,000 in revenue for the 2020-21 fiscal year — which began July 1 — after collecting just $83,000 through March, and $9,447 since then.

In addition, parking meter fee enforcement through citations makes up about half of all parking meter revenue, Olson said. However, because the city has no plans to enforce the meters, it won’t see those dollars.

With some businesses using the two parking spaces in front of their property to expand outdoor dining options, revenue is expected to be reduced further as the city plans for meters on sections of Commercial, Broad and Spring streets to not be available for use.

While the move may concern some businesses due to limiting parking spaces, Olson said reinstituting the fees would help cycle patrons through the area, allowing more people to park.

Nevada City Police Chief Chad Ellis also said enforcement has the potential to drive away some customers, and would require the rehiring of a parking enforcement officer.

According to the staff report, the continued suspension of parking meter fees may have strained the city’s ability to fund general services.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email [email protected] or call 530-477-4229.

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