The Great Falls Parking Advisory Commission (PAC) on Tuesday recommended major rate increases for downtown parking during a City Commission work session.
The recommendations would raise meter rates along Central Avenue from 50 cents per hour to $2 per hour. The rate for the first block of streets adjacent to Central Avenue would increase to $1.50 per hour and all metered parking would go up to $1 per hour.
Right now, the parking program has about $800,000 in maintenance work, which includes surveillance camera and security improvements, LED lighting upgrades, garage entrance and revenue controls, and deferred general maintenance on the south and north garages.
Several people expressed frustration at the meeting, citing the potential impacts to business and property owners if rates are increased.
Alison Fried, owner of Dragonfly Dry Goods, told city officials that raising the meter rates would penalize customers and business owners. “If we’re going to take all the money from on-street parking and try to redo two buildings, we’re gonna put ourselves out of business,” she said.
The City Commission only heard the PAC’s recommendations to help fund the projects and maintenance through increased rates on Tuesday. A decision concerning parking downtown is expected to be made at the beginning of next year.
The next PAC meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on December 20 in the Rainbow Room of the Civic Center. City officials said all public input and suggestions are welcome.
Reaction to the proposed rate increases has met with unanimous disapproval on the KRTV Facebook page as of Wednesday afternoon.