Richmond discuss addition of parking meters

Taylor Six/The Register 

Richmond Mayor Robert Blythe participates in a demonstration of paying at a parking meter which the city plan to install throughout the downtown area after "chalking" to monitor parking was deemed unconstitutional through a court of appeals. 

 

After a federal appeals court panel ruled “chalking” unconstitutional, saying it was an infringement of the fourth amendment and constituted an unwarranted search, the city of Richmond stopped chalking. Now, the city is going to install 339 parking meters in the downtown area.

Garrett Fowles, the city’s attorney, gave a brief overview to the commissioners about the case and the appeals regarding the district court's ruling, and because it was handed back down to them, the case is still pending and not "set in stone."

"Parking meters are something we are going to have to do, and go down that road," Rob Minerich, the city's manager, said.

He noted that if 30% of the 339 meters were used at $1 per hour five days a week, it would generate near $250,000 annually.

That revenue, according to Minerich, would go toward paying the parking enforcement officers (PEO) and pay off the cost of the meters installation, which totals $400,000. Once they are paid off, he says that the money could go back into downtown projects.

Minerich noted that this would also help merchants downtown by helping to move cars that are parked illegally, allowing limited space for potential customers.

Two representatives from the parking enforcement management group IPS Group Inc., which controls 90% of the industry, gave a presentation to the commissioners about its Smart Parking meters, the enforcement technology and the mobile app that can be used by people wanting to park in the city.

For customers using the app, called Park Smarter, they can pay the fee to park through their phone, find available spots, add more money to their meter remotely and pay citations.

For a POE, they have handheld devices that operate under a cloud-based system. They can use their own devices through another app which would save the city money by not purchasing additional equipment. With this app, they can issue citations, view citation history, show a meter map and use a system called DigiChalk, which works as a timer for cars parking in spaces without meters sending an alert to their device of the meter’s expiration.

The citations are also waterproof and unable to tear or rip.

The technology works for the city offering analytics to monitor the meters and can show violation hot spots, issuances per officer, how many people have contested their violations and how many violations they have in a certain time period to name a few.

Representative Michael Wilson said that typically, installation of the meters take only 90 days, but where they are overflowing with high volume orders, it would be about four or five months before the Richmond meters would be installed.

• • •

In other business, the commissioners discussed the invoice from the Madison County Fiscal Court for the the 2019 fiscal year towards the Madison County Animal Shelter, which will cost the city more than $300,000.

The two cities and the county all pay towards the shelter, but each at different rates. The county pays 65%, Richmond 25% and Berea 10%.

In a breakdown of the invoice sent to the city, it noted that at their rate, they would pay more than $278,000 for employee costs and $75,000 for daily operations and maintenance for the facility. The next year, the total costs are projected to go up another $248,000.

Minerich said that the city has to pay the costs before July, and if they require turning over some of that cost to pay the next fiscal year, a notice is required from the county.

He also made mention that in the agreement with Berea and the county about the rates each party pays, there is also a portion stating a “canine board."

“I am not aware of anyone that participates in that board or has a say,” Minerich said. “...It’s a good cause, it’s a lot of money but I have to put this in your all’s court to decide on.”

Minerich said that he, along with Philip Williams, the director of the codes enforcement department, have called the county for services regarding animal control, but they have not come.

“For the service that we are getting, it’s questionable,” Minerich said. “We’ve got the (Richmond police chief) shaking his head, Philip in agreement and they see it most, and I’m in agreement.”

Richmond Chief of Police James Ebert said that in times where officers in his department have asked county animal control to come out, it's always a debate of if they will or they won’t.

“The problem I have is that if we have an agreement of how we are going to do this, then all parties need to abide by said agreement, and I don’t think we have that,” Ebert said.

Mayor Robert Blythe noted that those who live in both the cities of Berea and Richmond are paying twice the amount of taxes to go towards these services with county and city taxes, and therefore should be receiving services from both parties.

Colleen Chaney, the county deputy judge/executive, said that there is no state law that requires the county to pick up animals within city limits, but that within those limits is where they receive most of their calls.

"You know if they decide that they wouldn't want to pay, then we would need to discuss maybe them creating their own departments that handle this issue," she said.

“I really think we need to have all three governments in here to really talk about this,” Minerich said.

Because of the city’s concerns, they hope to sit down with both the county and city of Berea to have a discussion about the shelter before moving forward with a decision.

Other business

• The commission received an update from Bell Engineering about the project on Water Street. A field report has been conducted, and Bell Engineering has 60 days to come up with a design. At which point, the city commission would need to give their approval so that the project can go out to bid.

• Mayor Blythe addressed concerns about neighborhoods in Richmond saying that in the past week alone, he as talked to two people who have said that because of suspected illegal activity from their neighbors, they are moving out of their homes. One woman who is moving has lived in her home for over 60 years.

The next Richmond City Commission meeting will be May 28, 6 p.m. at Richmond City Hall.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

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