No­ble pitches fee plan to coun­cil com­mit­tee

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ariél Zangla azangla@free­manon­line.com ArielAtFree­man on Twit­ter

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.

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