Parking revenue for Columbia increases despite bagged meters

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COLUMBIA - While construction is causing the city to bag more meters, taking up parking spaces, there has still be an increase in parking revenue.

Construction companies pay for the bagged meters.

Richard Stone, engineering manager for public works, said, "Generally it's a cost neutral approach. We do sometimes make a little bit more on a bagged meter than if the meter was open, but generally it's not less. We try to break even."

Columbia City Council has set rates for people looking to bag a meter.

"There's options for folks to either rent for a day, week, month or year. Those rates are set by council as part of our ordinances. It's $10 for a daily rate and there's a yearly rate as well," Stone said. 

So far, those fees are helping to make a difference.

"The revenue is about $120,000 more than it was last year," Stone said. 

Barry Dalton, public information officer for public works, said, from August 2014 to July 2015, the total meter revenue (including hoods) was $1,519,258,86. Compared to August 2015 to July 2016 the total revenue from meters (including hoods) was $1,714,855.54.

Stone said part of the increase in revenue comes from heavily marketing the new ParkMobile app to make it more convenient for people parking downtown.

Rick Robertson, co-owner of Booches, said all the bagged meters are making it challenging for his customers to find parking.

Other businesses I spoke with are not happy about the lack of parking.

Five other businesses declined to go on camera but one owner said the lack of parking is not good for business.

Stone said there has been some concern from people downtown because they want to park as close to their destination as possible. 

"Generally people understand that it's a short period of time, and hopefully the improvement that will happen in the area is more beneficial than the short period of time that they will have to deal with the bagged meters," Stone said.