July 13, 2020

Old Town residents object to parking fee increase

OLD TOWN – A handful of residents, including two downtown apartment owners, attended Monday’s council meeting to discuss the proposed ordinance amendment to prohibit overnight parking in the city.

After some discussion during the public hearing, it became clear that the residents’ issue wasn’t with the ordinance, but with the change in parking permit fees made a few months ago during the city’s budget process.

Some councilors agreed that the fee increase from $150 for a six-month permit to $300 for a year is steep, considering permits will be available only on a yearly basis.

“I think that’s excessive,” Ken Wark, who owns five apartments and the Subway restaurant downtown, said. “That’s my major concern, $150 for a college kid is quite a bit.”

Neighboring Orono charges $100 for a yearly parking permit, and Wark said it will be hard finding tenants who want to spend the extra money to live in Old Town.

The council approved the parking ordinance amendment Monday, but agreed to revisit at the Oct. 16 meeting the parking permit fee that previously was decided on.

City Manager Peggy Daigle explained that the fee increase and change in permitting wasn’t just an attempt to produce more revenue for the city.

“Besides it being a budget issue this year, it’s an economic development issue,” Daigle said. If someone wants to develop a business or apartments in the city, they’re going to want and need

parking, she noted.

“I agree with that, [but] I think it’s quite a jump,” Councilor David Mahan said.

In other meeting business, the council:

. Accepted a bid for salt for the 2006-07 winter season for $56.84 per ton from International Salt. Last year, the city paid almost $8 more per ton.

. Authorized an additional $6,295 for a free-standing header for the overhead door at the city’s airport. The council approved April 6 the initial purchase for an amount not to exceed $11,250, but when the engineers looked at the framework and support for the old door, they said a new header is necessary to complete the installation, Public Works Director David Wight said.

. Approved a liquor license renewal for Governor’s Restaurant.

. Approved a malt, spirituous and vinous liquor license and special amusement permit for the Knights of Columbus Hall.

Daigle also discussed with councilors the potential impact of a statewide spending cap proposal known as the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, slated to be on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The city manager said she was against the initiative, saying it’s a very cumbersome process that will destroy good process.

“We wouldn’t be able to be as mobile in taking care of the infrastructure,” Daigle said. “It’s an added layer of bureaucratic slowdown.”

TABOR does give the public the voice they want to have, she said, but in the end doesn’t make government better.

The council is expected to state its opinion and vote on a resolve at its next meeting.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like