Parking ramps are essential for anyone who works in downtown Rochester, but it could soon get more expensive to use those ramps. That discussion went before the Committee of the Whole meeting Monday afternoon where the council reviewed a rate study by Walker Consultants.
Walker Consultants analyzed current and past rates and compared it with other cities with a similar population to prepare a set of recommendations.
"The city of Rochester is looking to bring its parking rates up to a more industry level in order to keep our enterprise fund balanced. If we do not increase, we would run a deficit in the enterprise fund and they need to be self-supporting," said Nick Lemmer, Rochester Parking Transit Division coordinator.
Two options were on the table: the first option would increase the hourly parking as well as monthly contract parking. This would mean that the current $9.50 rate for six to 12-hour parking in downtown ramps will increase to $16 by 2022.
The second option would increase parking rates by the same amount with the addition of charging for parking on weekends, during events and after 5 pm. However, both options would maintain free parking for the first hour.
Walker Consultants are also suggesting that the Rochester limit the number of contract spaces by about 30 percent. Currently, nearly half of the downtown spaces are reserved for monthly contracts with businesses or individuals. The consultants suggested reducing the number of contracts to 1,400 and pointed out that there were about 2,000 contracts in 2017.
"What we have now are some deep discounts for people who purchase monthly passes, 40 percent or more in some cases. Across the industry, a more standard is a 20 percent discount for monthly contract parking rates," said Lemmer.
The rate study offers a proposed increase in monthly fees, suggesting an eventual 2022 rate that would provide 80 percent of what these spaces would generate from rotating day parkers.
The proposal would bring contract costs from the current $175 and $115 a month contracts to $288 per month, or $256 for daily parkers.
For visitors, downtown employees, and customers, the change would mean higher rates but also more available spaces to park.
The Council requested additional information about the rate study. The item will come before the Council on June 18 and will come to Committee of the Whole again that day.