Council committee passes scaled-back proposal to extend parking-meter hours

A proposal to extend parking-meter hours throughout the city was advanced by an Indianapolis City-County Council committee on Thursday night after being scaled back from its original format.

The Public Works Committee unanimously approved a proposal to standardize all 4,000 parking-meter locations across the city to collect fares Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

However, committee members decided not to include part of the original proposal that called for extending meter hours to 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.on Sundays. Parking on Sundays currently is free.

The proposal, which is designed to raise more funds to pay for more street sweeping and assist the homeless, now heads to the full council for a vote.

In its amended form, however, the plan would garner less money than initially expected.

The version that passed through committee Thursday night is estimated to generate an additional $800,000 annually, about $200,000 less each year than projected by the original proposal.

The city nets about $4 million annually from its 4,000 parking meters, but that's just a fraction of the amount collected by the meters. Since 2010, the city has contracted with private parking operator ParkIndy LLC to manage its meters. ParkIndy receives 70 percent of the first $642,000 in revenue that the meters generate each month. On any revenue on top of that, they receive 40 percent.

According to the Department of Public Works, the city on average nets 37.8 percent of the revenue that’s generated from meters.

That means ParkIndy LLC could receive upwards of $2.1 million in additional funds from the extended meter hours.

The street-sweeping initiative, which calls for the city to increase sweeping from 26,000 miles annually to more than 50,000 miles, is expected to remain fully funded at $500,000 per year.

But because of the changes to the meter proposal, new services for the homeless proposed by the mayor’s office will receive about $300,000 per year as opposed to $500,000 as initially expected.

Indiana Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett acknowledged “there is a financial impact to the changed ordinance.”

However, he said, “we’ll do what we can with what we have and make it work.”

Bennett said the Hogsett administration wants to do three main things with the funding to address “acute immediate needs.”

First, it would like to start a pilot program that would offer jobs to people who panhandle downtown, a program that has been started in several cities across the country, including Albuquerque, New Mexico, which named its campaign "There’s a Better Way.”

With a initial budget of $50,000, Albuquerque’s solid waste department offered panhandlers transportation and day-labor opportunities, including landscape beautification and garbage removal jobs paying $9 per hour.

Second, the city would provide wraparound supportive services to people who receive rental assistance. Third, the funding would support the Street Reach Indy group, which is able to provide homeless individuals direct services, whether that be assisting with an overdue utility bill, first month’s rent to get an apartment, or new work boots or a set of scrubs to start a new job.

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