Keep carrying coins for downtown parking, no change planned yet
BATON ROUGE - A plan to upgrade and manage the City-Parish downtown parking system remains under review.
The parish has been working on this for years, even hiring a consultant for $100,000 to help switch from the ancient coin fueled meter technology to something more modern. The new system would encompass the street parking meters and three City-Parish owned parking garages.
In late 2016, Atlanta-based Lanier Parking Solutions was awarded a contract for the job of improving the downtown parking system, but the project was never moved into action.
Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel says the original request for proposal did not include the purchase of the equipment, including meters, needed for the upgrades.
"At the end of the day, the numbers just don't really work to our benefit," said Gissel. "What is the cost of the equipment, what is the cost of the maintenance, etc."
The City-Parish admits, the current system presents a problem. The street meters are so old, they don't make new parts to fix them. If something breaks, it can't be replaced with the same model. Adding fuel to the fire, earlier this year Baton Rouge Police arrested a man accused of stealing 78 parking meters in the Baton Rouge area.
Gissel says the option on the table to make all the improvements needed, might be too expensive. In the Lanier proposal, cost estimates for in-garage equipment range from $606,000-$630,000 amortized over 3 years. Proposals for on-street parking meters were not included. The City-Parish says it has budgeted approximately $1.7 million for the purchase of parking meters and in-garage equipment.
In 2017, revenue from meters and the three City-Parish owned garages totaled $880,330. In 2016 it was $1,055,990 and in 2015 it was just shy of one million at $996,440. A new system would bring with it higher rates and enforcement.
Gissel says while the current proposal is still on the table, the City-Parish is working on more research and exploring all options before moving forward.
Comment from Lanier was not available at the time this story was published.