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The Boulder City Council approved the budget for the 2006 fiscal year last night, but held-off on final decisions regarding the much-debated decision to raise rates and extend enforcement hours of parking meters.
Boulder parking meters rates will be increased from $1 to $1.25 per hour if that budget change passes, and enforcement times will carry on until 8 p.m. The change would also reinstate the eco pass for all Downtown employees. Additional revenue from the increase would go toward parking kiosks, which would allow parkers to pay without coins.
Parties in support and opposition to this budget item showed up to voice their concerns about the issue and what they think this will mean for the future of downtown.
“The vitality of the area is promoted by free parking garages on Saturday and Sunday and by free meters on Sunday,” said Karen Klerman, chairwoman of the Downtown Management Commission.
The DMC is a city council appointed advisory board to assist in information gathering and analysis on downtown issues. Molly Winter, director of the downtown and University Hill districts, estimated that there are 2,300 garage spots available to the public during the weekend.
Shawn Coleman, the citizen at large for the DMC, said the shift is a non-controversial line item in the budget because the increase is built in for 2008 as an inflation adjustment. Coleman said that moving it up a year could only benefit the city because of the money it will generate for technological advances.
Many retailers from the Pearl Street district came in opposition of the increase because of the threat of lost business to 29th Street.
Jim Miller, owner of Master Goldsmiths, came with a 307 signature petition, which he said was signed by owners or managers of Downtown businesses.
“We know what is going on in the downtown district,” Miller said. “We are not against technology; we’re just really against a rate increase.”
General Manager of Trident Book Sellers, Michael Smith, was also opposed to the increase and said it would contribute to the decline of downtown businesses.
“I see a lot of retail leaving (the area) and being replaced by a restaurant-bar scene,” Smith said.
The council did pass the budget by a vote of 7 to 2, but allowed the parking meter debate to be settled at a later date. The council will meet again on the Nov. 28 to decide whether the issue should be open to another public hearing, and a final decision will come on Dec. 19.
Deputy Mayor Suzy Ageton said it was important to get feedback from those who signed the petition and open up discussions to all business owners in the downtown district.
Councilman Richard Polk, owner of The Pedestrian Shop, said he supported the increase.
Andrew Spiegel has had an office downtown since 1989.
“This is a bad idea at the wrong time,” Spiegel said. “We have no need to raise rates or extend hours.”