Fee plans draw anger

Mayor recommends nearly doubling cost of parking permits

`Out of whack'

Ward 1 residents group, alderman call proposal unwarranted

May 30, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

As if finding a parking space on neighborhood streets isn't tough enough, some Annapolitans may be forced to pay nearly double what they did last year just to legally park near their homes.

As part of the proposed fiscal 2001 fee schedule, the mayor has recommended substantially increasing residential parking permit fees in some neighborhoods, a move that some see as unwarranted.

The increase is one of several scheduled to be discussed at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the council's public hearing on the proposed fee schedule. A work session will be held after the hearing.

"Some of the fees seem really out of whack," said Erich J. Rose, chairman of the Ward One Residents Association's Inner West Street development committee.

The proposed fee schedule calls for increasing parking permit fees for an address with no off-street parking in Districts 1 and 2 from $30 to $60 per year. The cost of a permit for parking at an address with off-street parking would increase from $50 to $75.

In Districts 3 and 4, the rate would double to $40 per year for a parking permit.

Temporary permits would increase from $2 to $5 for all districts.

In the Ward One Association's monthly newsletter, residents were encouraged to attend the hearing to voice their opposition.

Mayor Dean L. Johnson said the increases are based on a need to cover expenses for services.

With the exception of parking permit fees, which were increased about three years ago, Johnson said, "most of the fees have not been touched since 1994."

In a report to the city administrator, Police Department officials said the additional revenue from the proposed fees could increase turnover of parking spaces, improve the administrative process, and support an effort to promote use of stadium parking and shuttle service.

The additional revenue, the report said, would not be used to hire additional staff.

"Current staffing levels are more than adequate to handle the regulation and enforcement of the various ordinances," the report said.

Alderman Louise Hammond, a Ward 1 Democrat, said when the fees were raised a few years ago, promises were made to improve residential parking, but it's gotten worse.

Her constituents often complain about a lack of parking, especially in the summer. Visitors and others without permits often park on the residential streets and walk to downtown attractions, she said.

"It would never have crossed my mind to raise fees," Hammond said. "There's no justification for the increase."

Hammond said she is going into the work session hoping to get an explanation for the increase, as well as other proposed fee changes.

Another substantial increase is proposed for towing licenses and renewal fees.

Under the proposed fee plan, a towing license fee would jump from $25 to $500 and the cost of renewal would increase from $15 to $250.

According to the Police Department, the increase would help maintain reputable companies in the city. The companies, which take in $75 per tow, do substantial business in the city.

The fee schedule was supposed to be introduced with the operating budget, but was distributed about two weeks after the budget was presented to the council and had to be discussed and voted on separately.

Johnson said the proposed fee schedule could be voted on next month, but it will depend on what changes and questions the aldermen have.

The council is also scheduled to adopt the proposed property tax rate tomorrow evening. The rate is $1.67 per $100 of assessed value, a decrease of one penny from last year.

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