Noble pitches fee plan to council committee
Most of the increased fees proposed by Mayor Steve Noble, including those for parking, have been endorsed by members of the Common Council’s Finance and Audit Committee.
Members balked, though, at increasing dog-licensing fees and fees for senior citizens to participate in recreational programs. They also slightly adjusted the mayor’s proposal for the sponsorship of team leagues.
Noble met with the committee Monday evening to discuss his proposed fee schedule for the coming fiscal year. He said some of the fees need to be being increased so users of certain services
offset costs carried by city taxpayers. Noble said it also makes for better budgeting when city departments provide more revenue from their programs.
“Many of our departments, while they’re not able to be completely selfsufficient with revenue, our goal is to be able to have our departments be as self-sufficient [as possible],” he said.
Much of the discussion at the meeting centered on Noble’s proposal to double the cost of on-street metered parking and start charging to park in municipal lots, as well as changes to fees for special events.
Under Noble’s proposal, the cost of metered parking would increase from 50 cents an hour to $1. Fees for parking in the lots still are being worked out, he said.
Noble said the city had issued a request for proposals from vendors who could provide the city with the means to charge for parking in municipal lots. Those proposals still are being
evaluated, he said.
Noble also said drivers soon will be able to pay for parking with a smartphone app. He said the new method will not require a change to the city’s current parking meters, though the meters will need to be replaced sometime in the coming years.
Noble’s plan also calls for the city to offer a pass to residents and employees of local businesses to park in municipal lots for a set fee. That would move those individuals’ vehicles away from on-street parking, he said.
City Comptroller John Tuey said the goal is to move “long-term” parking off the streets and into the lots.
On the issue of special events, Noble said his proposal includes no fee for nonprofit, government and community groups. He also said there would be a standard application for all events with a $25 fee.
“While we may not necessarily be a festival city, [but] it sometimes may feel like it because we have so much coming in,” Noble said. “And I believe, personally,
that that is a huge economic engine for all of our small businesses ... in Uptown, Midtown and Downtown. I think they bring people into Kingston and they provide us with a lot of sales tax revenue and a lot of return on investment. So I’m proposing to not charge those entities for any other services.”
Noble and Tuey said the city generally has covered such costs for those events, but the proposal provides clear guidelines going forward.
The changes the committee made to Noble’s proposal was to keep dog licensing fees at $18 for unaltered dogs, and $9 for others. The committee also kept recreation fees for senior citizens who live in the city at their current levels, and also kept the fee static for nonresident seniors who participate in the ceramics program.
The committee also agreed to increase the sponsorships for team leagues by 20 percent each, rounded to the next highest $5 increment. For an adult softball league, for instance, the fee would increase from $460 to $555.