Farmville sets timeline for changes in downtown parking fees

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, May 23, 2024

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We now have a set date when some of the changes for downtown Farmville, including parking fees, will take effect. Town staff has said that all parking meters along town streets will be replaced with the newer versions by Friday, May 31. 

Now what does that mean? A couple things. First, the new parking fees take effect. As of May 31, any spot with a parking meter in Farmville will be $1 per hour. Second, the newer machines give you different ways to pay. You can do it by coins, credit card or through the Park Smarter mobile phone app. 

Amount of fines undecided

One thing that hasn’t changed, so far, is how much the fines are. We’re talking about the cost when you stay too long in a parking space, longer than you paid for at the meter. Currently, if you stay in a parking spot too long, you’ll receive a $25 fine. There’s also a maximum limit of how long you can stay in one space, regardless of how much you pay the meter. Right now, that’s capped at two hours. 

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When some people get parking tickets, they don’t pay. Instead, the number of unpaid tickets keeps piling up. To address the problem, council members had discussed increasing both the parking fines and then doubling them if a person didn’t pay within two weeks. The idea was to scare people into following the rules or just paying the ticket. 

The most recent proposal was tabled after the council’s Wednesday, May 8 meeting, as multiple business owners and residents complained.
The first tier of parking fines under this plan would have started at $25, for things like parking your gas-powered car in an electric vehicle charging lot. Then the next level of fines would have been $50, with an increase to $100 if it’s not paid within 15 days.
But the problem, for residents and business owners alike, was a concern over what impact these fines would have on downtown traffic. Business owners were concerned that stiffer penalties might keep people away from local shops or attending events where they have to find parking downtown. 

There was also concern about those who got parking tickets but live out of town. What happens if someone attending an event or shopping tries to pay their ticket by putting a check in the mail? There’s no guarantee the money would arrive on time, so if this plan was put into practice, a $50 fine might go up to $100 for something a person has no control over. 

Looking beyond parking fees

After hearing from residents, council members decided to take another look at the proposal for increased fines. They agreed to pick it back up at their Wednesday, June 5 work session. Now even if they come to an agreement that night, no vote will be taken. Instead, the idea would be to possibly have something back for a vote at the June 12 regular meeting. The council meetings are held at 116 North Main Street and begin at 6 p.m.

Editor’s note: For an argument about the need to change in how the town is looking to adjust fees, click here.