Smarter Funding for Smarter Parking in Athens

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Athens City Council discussed an ordinance Monday night to issue $460,000 of notes to pay for the installation of smart parking meters.

The ordinance, proposed by Peter Kotses, came after the city rejected a proposal to lease the meters.

Council At Large Member Peter Kotses at Monday’s City Council meeting.

“We were basically going to be paying $50,000 more in interest fees to lease the meters,” Kotses said.

Had the city gone with the lease, the terms of the contract could have changed costing the city even more money.

“We were able to secure a low interest rate from a local bank,” Kotses said. “Instead of leasing them over the course of 5 years we will just pay off a local note and saving the taxpayers around $50,000.”

Kotses said he does not expect any opposition on the final reading of the bill because the new meters are much more efficient for the city. But the change will mean drivers will have to feed the meters later each day.

“We’re adding an additional staffer to handle the overlap,” Kotses said. “Now, instead of being done at 6 p.m., the meters will now to go 8 p.m.”

Kotses said that the meters will pay for themselves, but could not say how long it would take.

Feeding those meters will change too. Some meters could be several feet away from the actual parking space. One boost to efficiency is the creation of parking zones that decrease in cost the farther away they are from the meter itself.

Mayor Patterson said one of the biggest steps towards efficiency is having spaces with shorter time limits.

He said that a 20-minute time limit would be perfect for certain locations around Court Street where most people are going inside to get food.

The time limit would also cut down on people holding spaces for hours at a time.

Patterson said one of the biggest changes is allowing for multiple payment options.

“This opens up the opportunity for people to use coins, credit cards, and debit cards,” he said. “It’s kind of hitting a refresh on options for people to park in the uptown area.”

The new meters will be in the same locations as the old ones, but many will now have multiple meter heads.

Patterson said the meter heads have mostly been ordered but they are still waiting on a specific part of the meter to come. Once they have the part they can start installation.

The ordinance proposing to change the meters will be read for the third and final time at city council’s next meeting on April first.