REVENUE from parking meters in the city centre has dropped by about a third since parking fees were doubled, the District Council’s environment and policy committee will be told tomorrow.
The committee will receive a petition signed by 67 people, asking that the parking fee be brought back from $2 to $1 an hour.
District councillor Manu Caddie will present a separate paper asking for an analysis of the situation, and environment and planning manager Hans van Kregten has said the intended revenue increase from the higher fees might not eventuate.
Mayor Meng Foon will tell the committee in a new report the intention of the increase was to offset a direct rate increase of $500,000.
Mr Caddie’s report will say that when councillors agreed to double the hourly rate to $2, it was on the assumption that there would be an increase in revenue of 50 percent to offset the potential rate increase of $500,000 or .08 percent.
This revenue did not look like it was going to be realised because it appeared CBD parking had dropped by about one third on last year.
Some of that might be attributable to factors beyond the price increase. For example, the unusually wet weather might have had a bearing on figures for July and August — but not September.
More city residents choosing to use public transport, cycling or walking might be a positive thing but might not be the only reason for the decrease.
“CBD businesses are reporting a noticeable decline in sales and while this may be in part influenced by the macro-economic situation, it could also be evidence our policy is impacting on their business,” he said.
He believed the financial situation, along with the petition signed by many residents and retailers, was enough to ask staff to look at the issue and report back to the council with an analysis of the situation and alternative policy proposals if warranted.
Mr van Kregten said staff agreed with Mr Caddie that the intended 50 percent increase in income might not eventuate.
For the first four months of the financial year, only 23 percent of the budgeted income of $860,000 had been collected. However it was expected the income would increase over the summer months.
Information to date suggested people working in the CBD were using alternative parking spaces and long-term (eight-hour) parking had reduced the most.
But there was less reduction in the use of short-term car parks, which suggested CBD customers were still using them. It might be that the length of occupation had shortened, which might impact on retail sales.
He warned that an immediate reversal of the decision to double fees would create a significant reduction in projected income. Bringing back charges to the 2011/12 level might not bring the income back up to last year’s level.
Heart of Gisborne, which had warned of the economic impact of the increase, was keen to investigate other changes in the parking regime, such as free parking days and tokens issued by retailers.
A further report could be provided for the committee’s February meeting, Mr van Kregten said.