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St. Marys City Council approved the publication of ordinances regarding new parking fees, rates, times and lot restrictions.
Councilmen Steve Skok and Bob Roberts comprise the parking committee, which was charged with reviewing the city's current parking conditions. During this process, the committee met with concerned citizens, the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce and the Community Education Council as they went street by street to review conditions.
As a result of their findings, the committee recommended raising parking ticket fines from $2 to $5.
"It has become an effort to be realistic in what's going on in the world that if you want enforcement, you got to get the funds to pay for it," Roberts said. "It's a consensus of that committee and myself that parking should be paid for by the user, not by the taxpayer."
He emphasized that if people simply put a quarter in the meter, they won't have to worry about a ticket.
Included in the ordinance is that all city parking lots will be closed from 2-6 a.m. daily. This is also valid on any city street as well. Violators face a $10 fine. The only 24-hour lot will be the parking garage.
"I still find that it's an imposition on people that leave work very late and start work very early," said Councilman Dick Dornisch said. "Also greatly increasing the fines for offending these things constitutes a threat to those people working those hours."
He stated he felt the hours were not realistic and there should be a 30-minute leeway, making restricted hours from 2:30-5:30 a.m. He cited examples of those working in bars, which only close at 2 a.m., with employees only finishing their shift at 2:30 a.m. or later; and bakers who go into work earlier than 6 a.m.
Dornisch added that he finds it dangerous enough walking in the dark, let alone walking a distance to the parking garage.
Roberts explained the catalyst behind the proposed change was the city has been receiving complaints about the lots not being plowed in the winter.
Councilman Rick Gabler noted that this results in less spaces available to park in, as the snow piles occupy those spaces.
"One man said he spent more time plowing the lots than the city did," Roberts said.
Skok noted that the 2-6 a.m. time frame was the standard applied for restricted on-street parking in the former St. Marys Borough, and eventually carried over to the city 20 years ago. Now that time frame is being carried over into the lots.
Under the proposed changes, parking permits would cost $10 per month for the parking garage from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., $30 per month for 24-hour parking in the garage and $15 per month from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in all other city lots.
The permit fee for city lots is currently $10 per month.