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Friday, January 20, 2006

Build It and They Will ...Ahh, Scratch That Thought

The quasi-governmental entity that financed, built and operates the City-County Building Parking Garage has installed a new, automated "attendant" at the garage to collect parking fees. Kevin Leininger made that change a subject of his column in yesterday's News-Sentinel.

We were one of those who had noted prior to the garage expansion a few years ago that the then existing two level parking garage was taxed to its capacity mainly when the Misdemeanor Court was in session in the Courtroom and City Council Chambers. Now, officials admit that the parking census is down about 120 cars a day since the new "Justice Center" has been opened.

The new site for misdemeanor court is only a half-block away but somehow those getting their charges adjudicated are spreading out their parking business.

It seems doubtful that the new meters will have much positive effect on encouraging persons to park there although it may lower long-term operating costs. The machine is getting a try-out period. If installed permanently it will have to pay off its installation costs with any savings in personnel. Mr. Leininger wrote:
Told by the city and county to compensate for the lost revenue, the company decided to bring in technology already common in Indianapolis, Chicago and other larger cities. By eliminating the need for human attendants, the machine should pay for itself within two years, Hayes said. The garage is staffed between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays, with parking free at all other times. The new technology will provide the capability to collect fees 24 hours per day, but there are no plans to do so, Commissioner Marla Irving said.
Net savings that begin two years from now may not be a total solution to the revenue problems facing the parking garage. So, the operators have resorted to another tactic - hanging a banner on the building.

Indiana Parley has saved you the trip to the City-County Building to see what the banner looks like by providing the photograph above. Oh, and the garage costs in another way,too. It subtracts revenue from other for-profit parking operators which pay property taxes.

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