OPINION: Parking solutions


So, at last night’s council meeting, the decision to finally allow for FREE METER SPACE PARKING on Saturdays to hopefully bolster business potential for downtown merchants was approved. Until the end of 2020.

Columbia’s revenue budget shows the borough expects to get $86K from parking fines and $65K in meter collections. On the cost side, there’s maintenance ($2K) and the costs of having parking enforcement personnel. Those costs are harder to find.

Does the borough’s meter collection system do daily meter coin collection, counting and record that data? Without that process in place, it seems hard to determine parking meter revenues and whether Saturday shopping might be enhanced.

One way that might have multiple positive outcomes would be to have a token system like the city of Olympia, Washington has. Many other municipalities use this system; it is a great way to actually somewhat measure the elusive “economic impact.” Merchants buy tokens from the municipality and give them to Customers to ease the pain of parking.


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