Council falls one vote short of approving $125K bonding for payment kiosks in lots
The Common Council this week came up one vote short of the supermajority needed to authorize $125,000 in bonding for the purchase of payment kiosks to be used in the city’s municipal parking lots.
The council voted 5- 3 on Tuesday in favor of the bonding, but six “yes” votes from among the council’s nine members are needed for bonds to be approved.
The votes in favor of bonding were cast by Lynn Eckert, D-Ward 1, Reynolds Scott-Childress, D-Ward 3, Majority Leader William Carey, D-Ward 5, Tony Davis, D-Ward 6, and Steven Schabot, D-Ward 8.
Some supporters of the bonding noted it also would have provided money to replace on-street parking meters.
Voting against the bonding were Nina Dawson, D-Ward 4, Maryann Mills, D-Ward 7, and Minority Leader Deborah Brown, R-Ward 9.
Douglas Koop, D-Ward 2 was absent.
The kiosks were to installed to accept payments for parking in the city’s municipal lots, which currently can be used for free. Carey said the payment plan, proposed by Mayor Steve Noble, was designed, in part, to ease the financial burden placed on city residents.
“Voting ‘no’ on this and putting the entire burden of our ... parking lots on all city residents is shortsighted,” he said. “We
have thousands of people who come to this city [who] think nothing of paying for municipal parking. Why would we not want to offset our expenses by bringing in revenue from people outside city lines?”
Noble estimated in his initial proposal that between 12 and 15 kiosks would be needed at a cost of $7,000 to $9,000 apiece. The kiosks were to be installed in nine lots by April 1, and the parking fee was to be 75 cents per hour.
On Monday, though, Noble bowed to public pressure and amended his plan to include a deep discount — $10 for an annual permit — for frequent users of the lots, many of whom are city residents and employ-
ees of local businesses.
Megan Weiss- Rowe, Kingston’s director of communications and community engagement, said Friday that Noble will ask the council to vote again next month on the bonding for the kiosks.
“This is critical because, as of right now, the council has authorized and voted to amend the fee structure for the city to charge 75 cents per hour in the lots and to sell $10 for annual passes for frequent users, but has not authorized the bond necessary to purchase the kiosks to collect said fees from infrequent users,” Weiss-Rowe said in an emailed statement. “... The mayor will continue to pursue the bonding authorization necessary to purchase the kiosks while continuing this robust community dialogue on long-term parking infrastructure and management plans.
Brown said approving the bonds would have provided too much authority to install the kiosks without the council’s consent.
“This gives free range to do anything you want at this point,” she said. “I had suggested that we start with new meters on the street first and see how it goes in a controlled situation.”
Carey noted that approving the bonds “gives us the ability to do kiosks but does not inhibit us from looking into other alternatives.”
Mills said objections from city business owners should be taken into consideration before any decisions are made about changing the city’s parking policies.
“I think we need to listen to the public,” she said. “We need to take up their ideas and have a discussion about them.”
A car enters one of the two municipal parking lots on North Front Street in Uptown Kingston.