The city says it is in a better financial position than expected after the first five months of taking over downtown parking enforcement from a private contractor.
The municipality hired four new downtown bylaw enforcement officers this year as part of its bid to take over reins of downtown parking management from Robbins Parking on April 1. The decision to move the service in-house was made last year, and was greeted with approval from downtown business owners, who favoured a more "ambassadorial" approach to parking enforcement.
From April 1 to Sept. 30, parking revenue from downtown increased $60,601 compared to the same period last year.
But that increase is mainly due to an uptick in monthly parking permits and parking fees, the city says.
Parking fines over the fivemonth period plunged 19 per cent, a direct result of the city's more lenient stance on parking infractions in the area.
Overall parking revenue totalled $709,722, while expenses came in at $708,832, netting the city a small profit of $890.
However, expenses for the program increased $141,257, which already surpasses the city's previous projected cost increase of $130,000 in 2013.
A staff report before council Monday states that the cost increases are attributed to the additional staffing - including a new parking manager - as well as the cost of new hand-held bylaw enforcement devices, uniforms, training and renovations to the Community Policing and Services Office.
A large portion of the expenses includes a $155,656-transfer to the city's parking reserve fund for future projects. A significantly larger sum, $232,502, went to pay wages and benefits of the new staff members hired as part of the city's downtown parking takeover, including Rod Davidson, the new manager of parking services.
The new downtown parking officers are paid at a union rate of $31.95 per hour, a wage comparable to what Robbins workers would have been paid under the city's 'fair wage' clause contained within the city's agreement with its workers.
Davidson said the downtown business community has been supportive of the city's "relaxed enforcement" approach in the area. "We don't get a lot of 'attaboys' and 'thank-yous' from people who get tickets, but that's the nature of the beast," he said.
The new parking system also goes hand-in-hand with the city's new bylaw adjudication system, which bypasses provincial court as the primary venue to dispute bylaw violation tickets, he added.
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