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Colorado Springs to spend $1.1 million to finish upgrading parking meters

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- At a time when budgets are tight because of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is investing a considerable sum in replacing old parking meters with new, smarter versions.

The City Council has given preliminary approval to allocating $1.1 million to finish the process of upgrading 3,000 parking meters downtown and in Old Colorado City.

The money comes from revenue reserves of the city's Parking Enterprise. Installation of the old meters started earlier this year and is expected to be finished by early next year.

Parking Enterprise Director Scott Lee said by getting the money now, workers can complete installation before next spring and summer when meter use is heaviest, thereby avoiding any loss of revenue then.

The meters allow users to pay by coins, by credit cards or on a smartphone app. The meters also have a graduated pay scale which costs users $1.25 per hour for up to two hours of use, and slightly higher charges for longer periods.

Lee said the new meters have resulted in a "significant" revenue increase, mainly because of the ability to charge higher rates. The meters also accept nickels and dimes, which the old meters stopped accepting around 10 years ago.

Technology allows each meter to communicate with a sensor in each parking space and connect with a nearby device. The system lets the meter know when a driver leaves, and resets the meter for the next driver.

The technology also allows the Parking Enterprise to monitor parking demand on certain streets at certain times, and follow parking trends more accurately.

Each new meter costs around $600 while it can cost between $700 and $800 to repair and maintain old meters which lack the available technology and have a shorter span of usage.

Around 300 of the new meters are currently being installed in the southwest downtown area that is being redeveloped around the Olympic and Paralympic Museum.

The total project will cost around $2 million, and Lee said it should pay for itself within two years.

"Parking revenue is down 15% because of the pandemic but it's recovering better than we expected. The question is how the upcoming Christmas season will affect the overall numbers."

Lee said that parking generated $5.2 million last year and will probably increase slightly to $5.8 million by the end of the year.

"Next year we project revenue of $6.6 million, which we would have had this year without the pandemic," Lee said.

The most common complaint has been that the new meters don't easily read credit cards.

"Be sure to read the instructions on how you insert your card," he said. "It doesn't insert the same way that it does for an ATM or a gas pump."

Some drivers said they like the meter upgrades, if it means increasing the availability of parking spots. But one driver is skeptical.

"A lot of people who are under pressure trying to get to the courthouse, worry about a parking meter and they miss their court dates," he said. "I think the city should use the money for something else."

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

15 Comments

  1. Gotta spend that taxpayer money to make more money from the patrons of this community right? What is the city going to do with this money, put it into the general fund?

    1. It’s paid for out of parking revenues, so if you don’t use downtown metered parking, you’re not paying for it. The Parking Enterprise is a self-funded department, meaning it has to make money to pay for its equipment, maintenance and employees.

      Downtown merchants want them because it creates turnover in front of their stores, rather than having those spaces taken up by downtown workers who would park in front of their stores for hours on end.

  2. “Lee said the new meters have resulted in a “significant” revenue increase, mainly because of the ability to charge higher rates.”

    Funny how ones revenue increases when they charge higher rates.

    “Technology allows each meter to communicate with a sensor in each parking space and connect with a nearby device. The system lets the meter know when a driver leaves, and resets the meter for the next driver.”

    We wouldn’t want someone else using the same space someone already paid for to use. This city is getting out of control with their demand to squeeze every penny out of their citizens.

    Where is the money going…

    1. Grabbing any left-over money from people leaving before their time has expired is a clear abuse of the power of a monopoly. I don’t go anywhere in the area where there’s metered parking, and I don’t remember the last time I parked at a meter at all. I just don’t go downtown any more.

      1. I offer another solution since these things are so quick to take our money, yet so smart to tell when someone has left the space and void the system and collect the remainder of the revenue.

        Since these are so smart to tell when a person has left a parking space, it obviously is encoded to also tell if there is still money left on the meter. Rather than the city just choosing to not reimburse the patron their money and place in in the cities coffers, why doesn’t the city refund the balance to all patrons that utilized their credit card and didn’t use the full amount.

        Think of it, this is the same as going in to buy a candy bar that costs $1.25, you pay $2.00. Does the gas station keep the $0.75, or do they give you your change that is due back.

        Ҥ 18-4-401. Theft
        Universal Citation: CO Rev Stat § 18-4-401 (2016)
        (1) A person commits theft when he or she knowingly obtains, retains, or exercises control over anything of value of another without authorization or by threat or deception; or receives, loans money by pawn or pledge on, or disposes of anything of value or belonging to another that he or she knows or believes to have been stolen, and:…”

        The city has the ability to refund the money owed to the patron for unused, pre-paid time. I would contest, that if the city interferes with my ability to make a choice to allow the next person to use the remaining time I have left on the meter, then I believe they have placed themselves into a position where they must provide the customer the ability to be refunded for the unused time. Further by making the consciences decision to keep the money, and not offer a refund, makes the statute I listed above applicable, and the city and the employees of this division of this government are complicit in this action of conducting this crime.

        Coin deposit involves more difficult solution, but the city is pushing this technology, not the citizens. The burden is on the city to not overcharge, and if you are going to invoke programming to take any remaining balance if the sensor registers the vehicle has left, and cause the next vehicle to essentially double-pay.

        Sorry City of Colorado Springs, you can’t have it both ways, again this borders, if not blatantly crosses that legal threshold, into a criminal act.

        Please fix this.

        1. you can prepay for gas, and get a reimbursement of the unused balance. That means the technology is available for the parking meters to do this as well.

  3. “Around 300 of the new meters are currently being installed in the southwest downtown area that is being redeveloped around the Olympic and Paralympic Museum.”

    300 x $600 = $180,000.00

    Does the city really think this museum will get that much of a public draw to warrant 300 metered parking spaces for this museum?

  4. I think it is slimy the sensor that deletes your time when you leave. I can’t wait for when it fails and then someone gets a fine because the sensor is glitching.

  5. the “system” will also let Wet Willy the Meter Maid when a car is IN a spot and the meter is expired.
    The powers that be are some really conniving money-grubbers.
    Remember-we had $7Ml in over taxes- that could be returned or used on improving the trailheads.
    FISCAL MISMANAGEMENT.

  6. 1.1 Million for a stupid ass parking meter???? this has got to be a freaking Joke…
    these retarded politicians could have used that money for something we could use…Like more police funding, building a box or something for the fraudulent homeless bums…bussing addicts out of our city…
    Don’t care if you a Libtard, Dweebocrat, or Republican…you need to get kicked out of office after this taxpayer wasted funds….Jeeeessshhhhh

    1. Technically it’s 2 million. Our city government is just advising they purchased another 1.1 million on top of the 900k they already spent. I don’t know though because the math isn’t adding up for me either. 3000 unit at $600 per unit meaning they spent 1.8 million. What happened to the 200k? This article doesn’t lend any explanation unless the city is saying the installation done by the city employees costed 200k.

      Just more shenanigans brought to us by our city council and city government.

  7. No one goes downtown as it is. Putting up new meters that don’t give the extra minutes to the next driver sure isn’t going to help. Maybe they should put parking meters in the medians for all panhandlers.

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