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  • Kevin Elliott

Lower parking assessment, higher permit prices

The Rochester Parking Advisory Committee (PAC) requested the renewal of a special assessment district (SAD) within the parking management district for a third year along with increasing monthly parking pass fees by $5 per month, effective April 1.

Rochester Deputy City Manager Nik Banda said at the city council meeting on Monday, March 12, that the parking committee in February unanimously passed a motion to request city council consider a third year of the Parking Management District's special assessment district to assist payment of the bond debt the city incurred for the construction of parking platforms. He said that initially city council approved three one-year SADs to be re-evaluated each February, after analyzing the health of the parking fund, with the goal of having that fund become self-sustaining, covering bond debt for the duration of the bond issue.

Banda said the goal also included building a reserve fund of $100,000 for large maintenance projects that will be required above the ongoing year-to-year general maintenance of the platforms and surface lots. The committee's ultimate goal, Banda said, is to eliminate the SAD as soon as fiscally prudent.

"In year one, the SAD was for $255,000, which was levied proportionately to the property owners within the district that didn't have the required parking on their own properties. The second year, the SAD was reduced by 25 percent, to $187,500," he said. "The committee is requesting that a third year amount be reduced again, this time by 33 percent."

The proposed levy for the district would be $125,000 in the third year, or about $55 per parking space for the property owners who are deficient on their sites.

The PAC also is recommending increasing parking permit fees from $20 per month to $25 per month, due to the demand for the passes. Banda said the city initially charged $40 per month for the passes, but response was weak. The city then dropped the price to $20 per month, at which point the city sold out almost instantly.

Banda said the proposed permit fee of $25 is still below other cities, citing Birmingham's monthly fee of $80 per month and Royal Oak's fee of $60 per month.

Rochester City Council on Monday, March 26, held a public hearing on the matter. At that meeting, it was relayed by city administration that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) would contribute $50,000 to the city's parking management fund, thus reducing the levy from $125,000 to $75,000, if the city chose to keep the price of monthly permits at $20.

Councilwoman Ann Peterson said at the meeting that she wasn't in favor of the SAD, and that the DDA should pay the full amount, and the parking committee authority should look for more creative ways to generate revenue. Councilman Stuart Bikson also said he has long opposed the SAD.

The issue ended in a deadlock vote on March 26, when a motion to approve the city to publish a proposed $125,000 SAD, and hold a public hearing on the matter on April 23 failed. Council voted 3-3 on the motion, with Peterson, Bikson and councilwoman Kim Russell voting against, and Rochester Mayor Rob Ray absent.

Council is expected to take up the matter again, as any proposed SAD roll amount must be approved by council before a public hearing and final vote can proceed.

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