Washington to vote on upgrading parking meters in business district
City Council mulls buying 40 parking meters that can accept credit card payments
A parking meter that accepts coins and credit cards
Washington officials are considering buying dozens of parking meters that can accept credit cards, but the high transaction and maintenance fees might become a roadblock to installing them in the city’s business district.
Washington Business District Authority is offering to pay the $20,000 needed to purchase the 40 meters, although the city would be responsible for the additional credit card transaction payments.
Washington Mayor Brenda Davis said the city would pay about 13 cents per transaction and spend $210 per month for the cellular service to upload credit card payments from all of the meters. Davis is not sure if she’ll support the proposal or whether it will pass during Washington City Council’s voting meeting at 7 p.m. today.
“I don’t want to increase parking (costs),” Davis said. “It’s always a controversial issue. But some of the businesses and business leaders have asked for more convenience, and we have to be mindful of that.”
The fees likely would force the Washington Parking Authority to pass the additional costs on to people who use credit cards at the meters. That would mean either a $1 surcharge on each credit card transaction or minimum purchases of one or two hours at the meter. However, the meters still would be able to accept coins at no additional cost.
Washington Parking Authority Director Tom Kearns is not recommending moving to accepting credit card payment because he thinks the meters are too costly to operate. But he added that a trial run on the meters could spur more if the community regularly uses the credit card option.
“I think the technology is too much for us, and our rates are too low for us to do it,” Kearns said. “But from a convenience perspective, it’s a nice thing to do. But I haven’t recommended it because the technology is beyond the reach for our rates.”
He said the Business District Authority has indicated the meters should be put in heavy retail areas. BDA officials did not return phone messages seeking comment on the proposal.