Athens City Council approves parking rate increases and has a first reading of the garbage rate ordinance

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Motorists in Athens will soon see a slight increase in what they pay to park.

Athens City Hall is seen in Athens, Ohio, on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. [Joseph Scheller | WOUB]
Athens City Hall is seen in Athens, Ohio, on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. [Joseph Scheller | WOUB]
The Athens City Council voted 6-1 Monday night to raise parking rates by 25 cents.

According to the city administration, the increase is to help pay for a new kiosk system at the city parking garage. The system will allow the city to increase revenue from the garage because parking rates will be enforced 24 hours a day. Drivers will not be able to exit the garage without paying.

City Service-Safety Director Andy Stone said the funds are crucial for the project.

Over the last decade, Sprint and T-Mobile have had cellular towers placed on top of the garage. 

Stone said the companies have provided $60,000 in annual revenue, but the companies are now vacating the space. The higher parking rates are intended to make up for this loss.

The ordinance set parking rates in high-intensity zones at $1.25 per hour (25 cents per 12 minutes). In medium-intensity zones, parking will cost $1 per hour (25 cents per 15 minutes). For low-intensity zones, parking will cost 75 cents per hour (25 cents per 20 minutes). Single-space short-term parking spots will see parking costs rise to 75 cents per 20 minutes.

As for the city’s parking garage, the ordinance will raise rates to $1 per hour.

The ordinance allows the city to lease parking spaces at a minimum of $100 a month.

Council Member Alan Swank was the only one who voted against the ordinance and said the rates are too high.

“I’m still concerned about the parking meters on the street,” he said. “I don’t want to hold up this legislation, although I’m not in favor of the parking garage part of it.”

The council also approved a memorandum of understanding to partner with Ross County to apply for round two of the Appalachian Community Grant Program.

The grant would go toward moving utility lines underground along Stimson Avenue, and the streets intersecting Court Street

The money will also go toward streetscape work along Carpenter Street.

“Because we are riding the coattails of Ross County, we feel a better than even chance that we’ll get funding for this,” Stone said.

The Appalachian Community Grant Program was created by the state to provide funding opportunities to support communities in Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties.

The program requires the bids for the program to include two or more counties to help regional projects supporting future development.

When the city applied for round one of the grant, it was a lead recipient, but this time will be a sub-recipient.

The city is using the funds it received in round one to renovate the Athens Armory.

The City Council also heard the first reading of an ordinance increasing garbage rates in the city. 

At the last council meeting, Stone announced the city is going with Rumpke Waste and Recycling as its new garbage collection provider

Under Rumpke’s bid, residential service will cost around $1.5 million annually. 

Stone is proposing residents be charged $22.53 per month for one can and $31.15 per month for two cans to cover the cost of the new contract.

This would be a 45% increase in the monthly one-can rate for customers and a 39% increase in the two-can rate.

Several residents addressed the council expressing their support for the current provider, Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers.

They said the decision to go with Rumpke is not in the best interest of citizens because they believe AHRC is more committed to sustainability.

The ordinance will be up for a second reading Dec. 4.