City staff members were hoping the City Commission would make a decision yesterday on how to fund parking operations because that decision would have an impact on the summer’s budget planning.
But that decision was put off at least for another two months.
Commissioners were given two choices, fund parking operations through parking meters or ad valorem property taxes.
Without a decision soon, the city will drain its $400,000 parking reserve fund.
Commissioner Terry Turner said the economy was too fragile to impose paid parking, which he called “an implicit tax” on downtown businesses.
Late last year, the commission put off a vote on parking meters to get input from the Downtown Improvement District, Downtown Sarasota Alliance and Downtown Sarasota Council. Only the DID chose one of the two options presented — ad valorem tax funding. The other two groups instructed the city to develop a comprehensive parking policy, instead of just looking for a way to balance the budget.
Commissioner Dick Clapp, whose call for even more public input last year was rejected by the rest of the commission, once again requested public meetings to gauge public sentiment on the issue.
The city did hold eight monthly meetings through 2008 and 2009 on parking, but they were sparsely attended, with an average of about six people — mostly the same six people.
City Manager Bob Bartolotta said too much staff time had already been spent on paid parking, so he suggested putting off the issue until discussions begin on next year’s budget. That will take place in July.
The commission agreed.
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