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Parking fee hike eyed by Manchester for added revenue

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 03. 2014 8:51PM

MANCHESTER — City officials have proposed hikes in parking permit fees that could send an additional $1 million in annual revenue into municipal coffers.

Under a plan devised by city Finance Director Bill Sanders and the city's parking director, the cost of monthly permits at the Millyard would go from $45 to $70 per month, and from $75 to $90 per month at the Victory Garage. The plan also proposes to raise monthly permit fees to park downtown from $50 to $70 a month.

Sanders told the aldermen's Committee on Public Safety Monday that he prepared projections based on a "conservative estimate" that 15 percent of current permit holders would cancel due to the price hikes, which would result in $600,000 in new revenue. If there are no cancellations, the revenue would be $1.1 million.

" I would characterize the increase as significant," Sanders said.

The plan was drawn up after Mayor Ted Gatsas called on department heads to propose ways to boost revenue as he faces the difficult task of crafting a tax-cap limited budget.

The committee gave preliminary approval to the parking proposal, but it still must go before the full board of aldermen.

Sanders emphasized that, based on his analysis, the permits are primarily purchased by nonresidents who commute to the city.

He also provided a comparison to monthly garage fees in other communities that showed Manchester's fees were relatively low. In Portsmouth, a monthly permit for a covered garage is $100 a month; in Concord, it's $112; in Portland, it's $110. Only Nashua, which charges $45 a month for a space in a covered garage, were prices lower than Manchester.

"I find this reasonable," said Alderman Pat Long, the representative for Ward 3, which encompasses much of downtown.

Long had a problem, however, with one component of the proposed changes: increasing the cost of a residential parking permit downtown — to $30 month — for those streets that currently have metered spaces.

In addition to the proposed parking fee increases, the committee also gave the green light to a plan to expand the downtown metered parking zone by roughly two blocks to the north, south and east. The standard 75-cents-per-hour charge would apply to the entire area; some meters in the area now have a 50-cent charge. In addition, the enforcement hours of 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, would apply in the entire area.

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