City parking meter hours to be extended after council vote

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A proposal to extend parking-meter hours throughout the city was approved by the Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night.

The council voted 21-3 vote for a measure that would standardize the times when fees are collected at all 4,000 parking-meter locations in the city to Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. The final proposal was scaled back in committee from an earlier version that also sought to charge fares on Sundays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays will remain free.

The new rules are designed to raise more funds to pay for increased city street-sweeping services and for new programs from Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office designed to assist the homeless, including a pilot program to employ would-be panhandlers in more productive jobs, such as helping the city with maintenance and downtown beautification.

The ordinance is expected to generate an additional $800,000 annually—about $200,000 less than council members initially sought by including Sunday parking fees.

Democrat Joe Simpson said he supported the extended parking-meter hours because the revenue would allow for cleaning streets in neighborhoods.

“Our citizens who pay property taxes, they deserve to have their streets cleaned,” Simpson said.

Republican council member Colleen Fanning, who represents Broad Ripple, where parking meters see heavy usage, called the proposal “a huge win for our neighborhood and for Midtown in general.”

The council members who voted against the proposal did so for varying reasons.

Republican Brian Mowery said he would rather the city find another source of funds to pay for street-sweeping and anti-homelessness initiatives “rather than taxing people that are wanting to come visit our city downtown.”

Democrat Jared Evans said he voted against the proposal because of how much revenue would be generated that would not actually go to the city.

The city nets about $4 million annually from its 4,000 parking meters, but that's just a fraction of the amount collected from fares. 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 annually from the extended meter hours.

“I have heartburn over that,” Evans said. “I support all the initiatives, but I don’t think this was the appropriate way to get that revenue.”

The city realized only $339,165 in revenue in 2010 before reaching the 50-year parking-meter management contract with ParkIndy, a public-private partnership the city formed with Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services. ParkIndy gave the city an upfront payment of $20 million and paid another $10 million to install updated meters. The contract also allows the city to avoid meter maintenance and labor costs.

The council also on Monday night approved, by a vote of 22-2, a proposal that would reduce the speed limit downtown from varying speeds to 25 miles per hour in an effort to try to reduce crashes and pedestrian deaths. The proposal initially included a restriction on right turns at red lights downtown, but that tenet of the proposal did not have enough support from the council.

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