New parking meters bring in $1M for Bloomington

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New parking meters in downtown Bloomington have brought in more than $1 million in their first six months despite free holidays and a harsh winter that caused many of the meters to freeze up at times.

The meters were approved a year ago amid protests from business owners who feared their long hours would deter customers and hurt their revenue. Mayor Mark Kruzan originally proposed installing 1,200 parking meters in the college town at a rate of $1 an hour, with 179 free spaces, but the city council raised the number of free spaces to a minimum of 400.

Kruzan said the early and late enforcement hours still draw criticism, but city officials are pleased with the implementation of the meters so far.

"Things have quieted down significantly," Kruzan said. "Really, discussions have started to focus on what changes could be made."

The most successful month for parking meter revenue was October, which brought in nearly $200,000. The next highest-grossing month was September, at about $185,000, The Herald-Times reported.

Public Works Department Director Susie Johnson said one of the biggest issues the city has faced with the meters was the bitter cold temperatures this winter. The city is working with the parking meter company to determine why some meters malfunctioned during strong snowstorms and days of frigid temperatures.

"The weather has taken a toll on a lot of its infrastructure," Johnson said. "We have had some issues with the meters freezing."

She said city officials expect to resolve the problem before next winter.

"We anticipate having this problem worked out," Johnson said. "We're working on the solution for that right now."

Kruzan said the city will use the meter revenue to hire two seasonal workers to help keep the downtown area free of litter and graffiti. The money also will help pay for the meter installation and for sidewalk and paving work downtown.

"It is going to produce revenue that we can reinvest into downtown," Kruzan said.

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