Its called the Death to Quarters Act and city officials hope it solves the quarter conundrum businesses and shoppers have grappled with since parking meter rates rose 75 percent.
Since the rate hike earlier this summer, business owners claimed potential shoppers were being run out of Old Town because they didnt have quarters to pay; 14 quarters are necessary to enjoy the maximum two hours of parking. Merchants also loathed acting as a bank for shoppers that needed quarters.
City Council decided on Tuesday to replace the citys entire stock of antiquated mechanical meters with computerized meters that allow users to pay with credit cards, cash or coin.
What were doing here as a city is doing the best that we can to work with what we can, said Councilman Frank Fannon. I would like to apologize to all business owners maybe we didnt think [the meter hike] through as well as we should have.
New meters will cost the $1.25 million from the contingent reserve fund, according to an internal memo. The are expected to pay for themselves in two years, officials said.
The new meters are bigger and boxier than the traditional ones, but each unit represents multiple spaces, so fewer are necessary. However, their lifespan is about 10 years, according to city staff less durable than the simpler machines.
The process of parking will be different as well. Patrons will pay at the meter, receive a receipt and place it on their dash. The time stamp on the receipt dictates if youve exceeded your time limit. The same ticket works at any space in the city, for up to two hours.
Officials hope to have the new meters installed by winter.