Parking problems spark debate


For the past three years, Seymour city officials have debated downtown parking issues.

From trying to increase parking to finding ways to keep people from parking in front of businesses for more than two hours, it has been an ongoing problem with no effective solution.

Councilman Brian D’Arco said something has to change.

During a recent city council meeting, D’Arco suggested the city look at raising parking fees to $10, from the current $3 or $5 if paid after the day it’s issued.

He also questioned whether the council could limit the type of vehicles that park downtown due to the width of the streets to prevent large trucks from creating sight issues.

Police Chief Bill Abbott said the council looked at raising parking fees in 2007 to $10 with a $25 late fee, but the change was voted down.

Most people don’t pay the ticket the day it’s issued, and only about a third of tickets get paid overall, Abbott said.

D’Arco said by raising the tickets to $10, the amount brought in could pay for additional hours for another parking attendant to go around checking for parking violators.

“I think raising the price and the frequency (of tickets) would definitely help a lot of parking issues down there,” he said. “And it should pay for that extra person at the same time.”

Currently, the police department has two clerks, one of whom also has the duties of parking attendant.

Abbott said in 2017, the parking attendant issued nearly 800 parking tickets, and less than half of those were paid. A small number of tickets, around 35, were waived for customers who were at downtown businesses for more than two hours, Abbott said.

If the fees were increased to $10, that would mean around $4,000 likely would be collected, which is not enough to cover the attendant’s $30,000 salary.

“I don’t think parking tickets is a way to justify time at all or the longer enforcement hours,” Abbott said.

One solution the city had looked into was purchasing an electronic license plate reader, but the equipment and software was priced at $60,000. The technology would decrease the amount of time the attendant spends on the downtown route from an hour and a half to 15 minutes, Abbott said.

D’Arco said the equipment could be paid for over time if the fees were increased and the attendant was out more issuing tickets.

“That’s a lot of parking tickets,” Abbott said.

He disagrees with the idea of funding enforcement by issuing tickets.

“I don’t think that’s a legitimate purpose to write tickets to pay someone’s salary,” he said.

“But we could be writing tickets to pay for the equipment,” D’Arco said.

Mayor Craig Luedeman said he doesn’t think there is a lack of parking in downtown Seymour and that people just have an incorrect perception of the issue.

Abbott said there is no reason most people can’t park in free public parking lots and walk the short distance to their destination.

“You walk longer at Walmart than you do downtown,” Abbott said. “It comes back to what is an enforceable ordinance?”

But even if it is just people’s perception, the problem is not going away, D’Arco said.

“We still have to look at it to try to project that there is something we’re trying to do to get it better than it is,” he said. “Doing nothing at this point in time hasn’t worked, either.”

Councilman John Reinhart said the issue depends on what block is being talked about. He said he recently watched two downtown employees park in two-hour spots meant for customers.

“I don’t know what the answer is for sure,” Reinhart said.

No posts to display