The prospect of having to have “dinosaur” stand-alone parking meters in the main street has angered district councillor and retailer Larry Foster — but he was told by environment and planning committee chairwoman Pat Seymour that this was a decision already made for cost reasons.
The committee is recommending to the council that an appendix be added to the parking policy that will see funding provided for replacement of meters that are beyond repair during the next seven years, until new smart meters are brought in.
A staff report said it was assumed that 25 percent of the present meters would fail over the next seven years — which could mean that revenue from the meters, which brought in $665,000 (with administration costs of $276,000) in the 2017/18 financial year, could fall by up to 25 percent.
To mitigate this, the committee is recommending adding $10,000 to $11,000 a year to the budget for interim replacement of failed pay-and-display meters with individual free- standing ones.
Mr Foster was horrified to think that in 2018 there was not enough money to fund replacement of the pay-and-display meters that were going to falter.
To replace them with stand-alone meters was going backwards.
“They are dinosaur meters,” he said.
Why would you have stand-alone meters in the main street when there had been pay-and-display ones for so long?
“I know we have some financial issues to contend with but if we invest in modern technology we are actually going to end up having a better income,” he said.
With better smart meters, people could use their credit cards and more people would park — so he really struggled to understand why the council would support even the remote possibility of havng stand-up meters put back in the main street.
“It is absolutely bizzare.”
Some stand-alones possible meantimeBut Mrs Seymour said it was a decision that had already been made — because of the impact there would have been on the early stages of the new 10-year long-term plan.
“I think it is generally well understood that the implementation of smart meters had to be put back,” she said.
The report made it clear the total would be $1.7 million, to be paid in three increments from 2019 to 2022. A decision had already been made not to proceed.
“It has been well discussed and while it might not be to everyone’s satisfaction, this is the psosition the council is in.
“I am sorry Mr Foster, that as a retailer you are going to see stand-alone meters but otherwise our ratepayers will be paying an excessive amount.”
It was a collective decision of the council not to introduce smart meters.
Mr Foster said there was a possibility the meters might be included in the next long-term plan in 2021.
Environmental services and protection manager Nick Zaman said this did not mean the main street would be littered with stand-alone meters but the council might have to put some in over the next few years.
Rehette Stoltz said the change to smart meters could mean people had to trek quite a distance to find one.
The committee is also recommending an addition to the policy for extra parking around the War Memorial Theatre when Operatunity Comes shows are held. There have been a number of complaints about the lack of parking available when shows are held.