RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- If someone told you a city was offering free downtown parking for a year, you might think it would create quite a hole in a city's budget. Not the case in River Falls where city council members were considering a parking meter moratorium.
"Maybe we should just go without it for awhile and see what the impact is before we invest over $100,000 in a new meter system," City Administrator Scot Simpson said. The current meters were planted in 1970 and the city hasn't raised the price on them since. You get the first 12 minutes free and an additional 12 minutes will set you back one penny. "You can get two hours for a dime," Simpson said.
"I just don't even see the reason for it if it's not making the city any money," downtown business owner Krsiti Straub said.
Straub is right. Simpson says the city, after paying meter monitors and maintaining the parking relics, fails to break even on the meters. A ticket for not feeding the meter will set you back $5.
"They're not intended to be a money making franchise for the city but rather to help keep the turnover in the downtown and keep the parking available and viable for the businesses," Simpson explained.
The city council is going to take up the issue Tuesday night. A moratorium, Simpson says, would give officials a year to figure out what the best plan of attack is. Five hundred new, non-credit card-swiping machines would cost $100,000; the city has to figure out if it'd be worth it.
They can't really raise the price to park on the current machines. Believe it or not, they don't have a slot big enough to take quarters.
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