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  • Kevin Elliott

Rochester approves parking assessments

Rochester City Council on Monday, May 14, approved a third and final year of a special assessment district (SAD) for property owners in the parking management district that don't have private on-site required parking.

The amount a property owner will be required to pay for parking was approved at $50,000, down from $187,500 last year. The city's parking advisory committee had originally proposed a $125,000 SAD, but that was lowered to $50,000 following a commitment of $50,000 from the city's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) from its 2019 budget.

Council voted 5-2 to approve the SAD, with council members Ann Peterson and Stuart Bikson voting against it.

Bikson said he has voted against the assessment in the past, as he did again, because he believes the DDA should pay for the operation and maintenance of the parking structures, as it is the DDA that benefits the most. Peterson also said she doesn't feel the burden should be put on business owners.

The parking committee in March passed a motion to request the city council consider approving a third and final year of the SAD to pay for bond debt incurred from its construction and maintenance. The committee also recommended raising the price of monthly passes from $20 per month to $25 per month. The fee hike would result in about $36,000 in additional revenue each year. Council members indicated they weren't in favor of raising the fees.

"The goal isn't to make it a profit center," councilman Ben Giovanelli said.

Council also considered changing the hours of operation to extend the closing time from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. The change would provide about $14,000 in additional revenue each year.

"I'm not a fan of raising prices on passes, but it makes sense to extend hours," mayor Rob Ray said.

Council also was presented with the option of charging for parking on Sundays, which are currently free; changing the policy that allows for one hour of free parking to 30 minutes; and charging for parking at the city's Farmer's Market lot by adding a kiosk device.

Council approved the SAD amount, but stopped short of approving any operational changes or fees, as they opted to look into the matter more and take up the issue at a later date.

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