BRADENTON -- Parking at the city parking garage will become more convenient but also more expensive come Tuesday for short-term visits.
In June, the city council began discussing the need to replace its 9-year-old paid parking machines in the garage, noting two of the original four machines had been taken out of service to provide parts for the other two.
The original technology was installed in 2005 and, as anyone knows who has pulled into the garage with anything other than change in their pocket, parking without coins was not an option.
The garage is at the corner of 12th Street West and Eighth Avenue West, across the street from the Bank of America building.
City workers completed installing two new machines Wednesday. The new machines accept bills, change and credit cards.
Before the new rates take effect, parking at the garage costs 25 cents per half-hour with no minimum, and $1 per hour for the next two hours up to a $4 maximum for the day.
The new rate is $1 for the first two hours. The only increase would be for someone who needed the garage for a quick errand that previously might have cost 25 cents.
City Clerk Carl Callahan has said the problem with keeping the fee at 25 cents for every half hour is it will now cost the city 30 cents per credit card use. Callahan said the parking garage is not necessarily a "money-mak
ing venture," averaging between $20,000-$30,000 annually, but the city isn't looking to lose money, either.
Vice Mayor Bemis Smith initially opposed setting a minimum fee, saying the parking garage is providing a public service, but the council ultimately acknowledged that rates were far cheaper than in other cities.
Callahan said the goal was to be fair to everyone, including the city.
In all, the city collects on average about $100,000 a year for all of its metered parking.
That includes the Manatee County parking garage, where the city collects the revenue through an interlocal agreement established when the city deeded the land to the county. That agreement expires in 2017.
The cost was $29,000.
Once the new pay stations go into effect, those using credit cards will have an option to follow the directions to use their cellphones to receive a text message their time is about to expire and then use their phone to extend their parking time rather than return to the garage to pay an additional fee.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter at urbanmark2014.