City to bring back officers to enforce parking

It’s been more than six years since parking meters and officers dedicated strictly to parking enforcement were eliminated by Marietta City Council, a move that resulted in the loss of a funding source that helped cover maintenance of city parking lots.

Now, in an effort to generate more revenue to keep the lots repaired, council plans to increase the number of monthly rental spaces in city lots as well as hire a couple of part-time officers to enforce parking regulations.

“The leased spaces rent for $25 a month, and we would assign a fund into which that money would be placed to pay for lot repairs and the enforcement officers,” said Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, and chairman of council’s lands, buildings and parks committee.

Currently leased spaces are only available in the city’s Parking Partners lot on Second Street, where 146 slots have been set aside for monthly rental. Noland has recommended that all 68 spaces in the nearby city lot at the corner of Butler and Second streets also be converted for monthly lease.

The municipal lots off Front Street next to Armory Square and adjacent to the Putnam Bridge would also include monthly rental spaces-15 out of about 33 in the Putnam Bridge lot, and 28 out of 77 spaces in the Armory Square lot, according to a preliminary plan from Marietta Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp.

“The administration believes this would create a revenue stream enabling the city to maintain the lots as well as pay for enforcement,” he said.

Other city parking areas, including the Ohio River lot just south of the Lafayette Hotel, a lot beneath the Washington Street Bridge, and the large lot near the Indian Acres Park boat ramp, may also be considered for leased parking.

Hupp and Noland said in addition to more monthly space rentals, council is looking at increasing the time limit for non-paid parking spaces in city lots to three hours instead of the current two-hour limit.

“Three hours would give people time to shop or do other business as well as to eat while they’re downtown,” Noland explained.

Marietta Law Director Paul Bertram III said some council members have also recommended increasing the time limit to three hours for all current two-hour city parking spaces, whether they’re located in parking lots or on the street.

He said that’s one of the issues that has to be ironed out before legislation can be developed to create additional monthly rental spaces and to hire parking enforcement officers.

“The administration has to first put together a final parking lot plan, then a fund has to be set up in which to place the leased space monies and defining how those funds will be used,” Bertram said.

Council will then have to approve the fund and legislation before the additional spaces can be leased and revenue collected to pay for enforcement.

Bertram said making the changes by the first of the year is doable if council addresses those issues in the next couple of months. He noted the revenue and hiring of enforcement officers would also have to be addressed as council works on the 2014 municipal budget.

Hupp recently presented the council members with a draft job description for the part-time enforcement officers, which he estimated would cost the city about $15,000 each for their annual salaries.

He said the positions would be for 29 hours a week or less, and would require at least a high school diploma or equivalent. The officers would issue tickets for parking violations, be able to interact with the public and be able to prepare daily reports.

“The positions would likely come under supervision of the police department,” Hupp said, adding that the enforcement officers would not only patrol parking lots, but also on-street parking and could monitor handicapped parking space violations in the Walmart complex.

City council eliminated the parking meters and enforcement officers in January 2007.

In 2006 the city’s revenue from parking violation fines, monthly space rentals, and parking meters totaled $86,712. That year the city paid out a total $64,979 in salaries for a full-time parking enforcement officer and two part-time attendants at the Parking Partners lot.

Hupp said hiring two part-time parking enforcement officers under the plan currently being proposed would likely cost around $30,000 a year.