AUBURN | Drivers may have to pay an extra quarter for parking for the sake of the city of Auburn budget.
Should the latest city budget proposal for 2014 pass as is, the cost to park at meters would increase from 50 to 75 cents per hour.
Parking hours would also increase. The current hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. City manager Doug Selby said the hours would continue later into the evening, but did not specify how late.
According to the proposal, the increased rates would lead to an increase in the revenue stream at $150,000 annually.
"We realized we were low on the parking scale," Selby said comparing Auburn to other cities in central New York.
Auburn currently has one of the lowest parking meter rates in all of central and Western New York. Both Ithaca and Syracuse charge for parking from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but Ithaca only has meters in select business districts.
Syracuse charges $1.25 per hour while Ithaca charges $1 per hour. Oswego, Cortland, Geneva and Rome do not use parking meters.
Connie Reilley, the executive director of the Auburn Business Improvement District, said she understands that people may be upset by the increase, but it may have to be something local drivers have to deal with in the coming years.
She said the increase in rate and hours "is the reality of the money crunch in all cities."
Reilley said despite the increase, drivers will have three different parking options after Pango Park by Phone is introduced.
"There's always the parking garage to park in and the Pango Park by Phone," she said. "I'm not against it... I urge people to just work with us and be positive about."
Kim Pearson, owner of Nash's Art Supply, said she thinks the increase may discourage people from parking downtown.
"I like 50 cents per hour," she said. "I don't think parking is the way to balance the budget. I think that would drive your clients away."
However, Jim Daddabbo, owner of Mesagrande Taqueria, said "downtown has made a comeback." He also said increasing the rate is "theoretically a good idea," but is not the solution to the larger problem downtown is facing.
Daddabbo said the current problem is drivers park in spots throughout the night, which can be an issue for some restaurants because their customers who order takeout cannot find a spot to park. Daddabbo said parking in Auburn is currently a "one size fits all" system that does not work for people stopping for a three-hour show at the theater or a 10-minute walk-in for takeout.
"We need to take a comprehensive look at downtown parking," he said. "This can be fixed in a way that works for everybody."