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Price of Madison residential parking permits may increase by 50 percent

May 22, 2018 GMT

Madison officials are considering an increase in the price of residential on-street parking permits from $28 to $42 annually to offset the cost of enforcing the program.

A proposal introduced to the City Council would bump the cost of the permits, which allow city residents to park on the street for longer than posted time limits in specific zones, by 50 percent after a $395,000 expense to enforce the program was transferred to the Parking Utility’s budget this year.

“For a whole year, it’s still not awful, but it is a substantial hit for some people who are functioning on a slim budget,” said Ald. Ledell Zellers, 2nd District, the sponsor of the proposal.

About 5,200 residents currently have a yearly residential parking permit, said Sabrina Tolley, assistant Parking Utility manager. If approved, the $42 price would go into effect when the new permit year starts Sept. 1.

In the 2018 operating budget, the salary and benefit expenses for the time parking enforcement officers spent enforcing the program was transferred from the Madison Police Department’s budget to the Parking Utility budget.

The Police Department, which parking enforcement officers are a part of, had previously incurred the $395,000 cost.

More revenue from the program is being sought due to the increase in expenditures, Zellers said, but she noted that a $42 annual fee still wouldn’t be enough to pay for the management and enforcement of the program.

City staff estimate the annual fee for a residential parking permit would need to be $105 to fully fund the program.

“It is a difficult situation, because you pay for this permit and that’s no guarantee you’re going to find a spot to park so it can be kind of frustrating,” Zellers said. “I’m hoping that most will understand the reason or the need for it and look at it within the context of what the cost is if they were aiming to do off-street parking.”

Under the proposal, the price of a replacement permit, in the event a vehicle is sold or license plates are changed, would increase from $7 to $11.

A $42 rate would add about $72,000 in revenue annually, but Tolley said the program would still need to be subsidized either through the city’s general fund, such as with the continuation of a one-time $85,000 transfer authorized this year, and also from the Parking Utility’s reserve funds.

Without money from the general fund, the Parking Utility would have to pay out about $324,000 from its reserves next year to cover enforcement, Tolley said.

She said the last time the permit price was increased was in 2016 when it went from $21 to $28.

There are 24 zones throughout the city in the residential parking program, mostly Downtown and on the Near West and Near East sides. Residents must prove they live in the area to buy a permit for a specific zone.

Residential parking zones have signs posting the parking time limit, usually a one- or two-hour limit between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., with the specific zone number listed in the bottom left corner.

The Transit and Parking Commission and the City Council will consider the increase.