Parking fees and fines going up in Rutland

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 5:16 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Parking your car in Rutland will soon cost more, but the city says it’s for a good cause. Monday, the Rutland Board of Aldermen voted to increase both parking rates and fines in the city.

“Currently, the tickets are sitting at $10.10 to $15 for parking in downtown Rutland violations. And the current rates for the parking meters, which is ticking right here next to me, is $1 for an hour. We’re looking to change that rate to $1.50 an hour, so it’s technically a 75% increase by the half-hour,” explained Rutland Alderwoman Kiana McClure.

City officials say the rate increases stem from a deficit in the city’s parking fund, as well as issues with the amount of parking available in the city’s downtown area.

The parking rate hikes won unanimous support from the board, but the doubling of the fines was not so popular, with several members pushing back against the idea.

“Our parking revenue is not where it should be for the population of the city and for the amount of people who come in to visit and shop and eat. We could be capitalizing more on this parking,” McClure said.

“We can’t keep making, making it more expensive to be here,” Rutland Alderman Larry Cupoli said.

Cupoli says raising the fines only makes it more likely people won’t pay.

“We currently have a certain amount of money that has not been paid from previous fines that we’ve put on people. It’s a fair amount of money that we have not collected,” he said. “If we’re not collecting a $15 fine, how in the world are we going to have people pay a $30 fine?”

Other aldermen say that most tickets issued downtown went to repeat offenders who opt to pay the fines rather than pay the daily rate at the garage or feed the meter.

“When it’s people going ahead and choosing to get a parking ticket because it’s cheaper than paying for a day pass in the parking garage, then taking a parking space away from someone who’s coming into the city to shop and then further expand our local economy, it’s a little bit of a dicey situation,” McClure said.

Business owners I spoke with like the fine hikes.

“We hope that it’s a major deterrent and the people that have abused parking for years will take heat and move on to the parking deck where there is plenty of spaces and a lot cheaper,” said Ivan Roachar of Diamonds and More.

As part of the city’s parking plan, the downtown kiosks will be replaced with new meters linked to ParkMobile, an app Burlington already uses, that allows people to pay for parking with their smartphones.

City officials say the changes are expected to go into effect in the next few weeks.