City to raise parking meter rates


The parking rate in downtown Delaware is set to increase this summer after Delaware City Council approved an ordinance amending the location and schedule of parking fees and service charges during Monday’s meeting.

Under the amended ordinance, the current parking rate of 25 cents per hour will increase to 50 cents per hour on July 1 before increasing again to $1 on Jan. 1, 2024. The original proposal called for the rate to increase directly to $1, but concerns from downtown business owners about the potential negative impacts on their employees led the city to consider alternative proposals to phase in the increases.

Two alternative proposals were considered to allow for an adjustment period, including a second option that would have increased the rate to 50 cents on July 1 and remained there for a year until increasing to $1 on July 1, 2024. However, that option would have delayed the city’s ability to carry a positive balance in its parking budget until 2026 while the option approved by council on Monday will create a positive, albeit small balance of $4,170 in 2025 before jumping to $59,485 in 2026.

The city has stated the positive balances will become discretionary money for lot improvements and other costs, including funding future infrastructure such as kiosks and, potentially, a downtown parking structure.

Included in the ordinance is a contingency to ensure downtown employees are accommodated prior to the rate change. Utilizing the city’s properties on Spring Street as additional, permit-only parking spaces has often been mentioned by the city during discussions on a rate change, although the question of whether or not the lots can be paved and striped by the city in time for the new rate to go into effect remains without a definitive answer.

“We’ve been talking about parking for a long time, and this is step one in a multitude of steps to implement the recommendations of our consultants on improving downtown parking,” Vice Mayor Kent Shafer said on Monday. “Change is always difficult when we make changes to the way things have always been, but we’re trying to be fiscally responsible, which is why we made the changes we did here. But we’re also trying to plan for the future when we can better regulate the parking we have and expand parking capacity. So this is really just the first step to get that done.”

Shafer went on to say the city understands the negative impact the rate increase will have on people but noted the city is doing what it can to mitigate the impact to the best of its ability.

“We’ve asked the city manager and staff to put together a plan and a proposal to provide parking to downtown employees at a discounted rate because we certainly don’t want to impact our businesses or those employees negatively,” Shafer said. “So this (plan) is contingent upon us having that plan in place prior to July 1.”

Councilman Cory Hoffman said of the plan, “I want to applaud the Parking and Safety Committee, city staff, and everyone for working with businesses and everything to make this work so we can be fiscally sustainable on this matter. At the same time, we have the contingency on the employee parking spaces that I hope doesn’t derail it. A walk to businesses over from Franklin Street, where there is basically unlimited free parking, is a three-minute walk to the downtown businesses. So it’s not that we would be forcing employees to pay to park if they work here. They would be paying to park closer to where they work.”

Hoffman added that he believes increasing the parking rate will help the city’s downtown parking issues in that it will open up spaces more often as people avoid paying the rates for extended periods.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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