The city of Auburn has proposed hiring a new attendant at the Lincoln Street parking garage, yet is forecasting a $70,000 loss in parking revenues from the current fiscal year.
According to the preliminary 2018-2019 city budget, the city expects to collect $405,000 in parking fees from off- and on-street parking meters, parking garage fees and parking permits. During the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which will end June 31, the city budgeted for $475,000 in parking revenue. In 2016-2017, the city actually collected around $415,500 from parking fees.
City Treasurer Robert Gauthier stressed the revenue loss has been estimated "conservatively."
"We've got to be conservative when it comes to revenue," Gauthier said. "We don't want to be over budget and have a shortfall."
He explained the loss in revenue will be due to lost parking spaces. The Lincoln Street parking lot permanently closed in February as construction began on the visitor center. Now that the lot is closed, more people are parking in the garage, he said, which offers two hours of free parking. Council approved free two-hour parking in June as part of the 2017-2018 city budget.
Some parking spots along Genesee Street will be temporarily unavailable over the summer due to repaving.
Gauthier said once the expansion of the Court Street parking lot is completed, revenue will increase. The city plans to double the size of the current lot. The expanded lot will have 42 parking spaces and work will be done to improve stormwater management, traffic circulation and pedestrian access.
In a budget presentation Superintendent of Public Works Mike Talbot gave to the Auburn City Council on April 5, he requested funds to hire one additional full-time person to maintain the Lincoln Street parking garage and help with maintenance of the Equal Rights Cultural Heritage Center across the street as well. It will cost around $52,000 a year to hire another laborer.
Despite adding a full-time position at the parking garage, the total budget for the department of public works is expected to rise by only about 1 percent, Talbot said last week.
The Auburn City Council will meet Thursday and at that time, the remaining department heads from municipal utilities, planning and economic development, the fire department, city clerk, corporation counsel and the mayor's office will give their budget presentations to the council. Councilors are also expected to give their first public comments on the proposed budget during the meeting.