Bexley City Council continues to debate the pros and cons of installing parking meters on East Main Street and other thoroughfares to raise revenue and control traffic flow.
At their April 8 meeting, council members discussed a proposal prepared by the city's Service Department in which meters would be installed along East Main Street from Drexel Avenue to College Avenue as part of a 90-day pilot program. Twenty-five meters would be installed, split between both sides of the street, and would be monitored by the city's parking enforcement staff.
Mayor Ben Kessler said it would give the city a chance to see what utilization of the meters would be like.
He said East Main Street from Drexel to College is the best option for trying out parking meters because there are a limited number of retail businesses that would be affected and additional parking is readily available at City Hall, the Bexley Square shopping center and along Drexel Avenue. In addition, parking on the south side of East Main Street experiences little turnover throughout the day.
Service Director Bill Dorman said feedback from surrounding communities indicates that meters supplied by the IPS Group, a San Diego-based firm, would work best for the pilot program.
IPS Group has agreed to supply 25 parking meters at no cost to the city for the pilot program, "however, the city would be required to pay for the software and communication services, as well as the processing fees relating to any/all credit/debit card transactions," Dorman stated in his report.
The total cost for the pilot program with those additions would be $9,143.75, according to the IPS Group's quote.
Councilman Mark Masser, chairman of council's Service Committee, drafted legislation for consideration that would implement the pilot program. He reminded his colleagues that installing parking meters in high-traffic areas of the city was one of the recommendations of the city's Alternative Revenue Task Force. That group was formed in late 2011 to identify additional sources of revenue for the city.
City officials have been reviewing the group's comprehensive set of recommendations since the group submitted its report in late 2012.
"This is revenue producing, that is the goal," Masser said of the parking meters.
Some council members expressed concerns about how much revenue parking meters could actually generate, especially if meters are placed where free parking is available on nearby streets.
"Are we sure that people aren't going to just dodge the meters and go one block up?" Councilwoman Deneese Owen asked.
City of Columbus Administrator Mike Mercurio answered council members' questions about how parking meters work in Columbus.
Mercurio said Columbus collects an average of $1,000 annually per meter from its 4,755 meters citywide, with time restrictions varying and some meters costing 75 cents per hour and others costing $1 per hour.
Parking meters could work in Bexley, Mercurio said.
"This is a good idea for Bexley; you would gain revenue and have orderly turnover of parking," Mercurio said.
Council members said they will review the pilot program proposal and discuss it further at their next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in council chambers at City Hall, 2242 E. Main St.