Off-street parking could cost more next year

Off-street parking rates are up for discussion again.

The city’s finance and audit committee will discuss several proposed rate changes at its regular meeting Monday.

City staff is recommending the committee endorse increasing the off-street parking levy from $750,000 to $900,000 effective January 1, 2018. The downtown off-street parking levy is paid by property owners in the specified C-1 downtown area, and is to provide for the capital costs of providing off-street parking facilities.

The problem? Those capital costs are increasing. According to the report going to the committee, labour costs have increased two per cent, electricity 3.5 per cent, gas three per cent, and other increases of about 1.5 per cent.

Projections for the operating costs of the off-street parking service would require a per cent increase each year in 2018 and 2019 user fees to offset the estimated expenses.

The annual average reinvestment for the infrastructure needs of these off-street parking facilities is currently estimated at $870,000/year.

“The Westel Lease agreement, which expires in 2026, is another capital needs component and has an annual lease payment of $584,702/year, property taxes of approximately $100,000/year; insurance of approximately $5,000/year and the city is also responsible to pay for any repairs that the building may have,” according to the report. “The 2017 Downtown Off-Street Parking Levy is $750,000, which is enough to pay for the Westel lease. In order for the Downtown Off-Street Parking Levy to fully recover the capital costs of the off-street parking fund, the levy should be increased to $1.62 million ($870,000 plus $750,000). This is a long-term goal to make the service self-sustaining and administration is recommending an initial step to get there by increasing the levy by $150,000 to a total of $900,000/year. The 2019 levy will be reviewed during the regular budget process for all other levies in the fall of 2018.”

Consequently, the committee will also be asked to approve a user fee increase of two per cent in both 2018 and 2019.