City to take over parking permits

Unable to come to a resolution through contract negotiations, the city will take over the employee parking permit program from the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce.

The city offers Winslow-area businesses an employee parking permit program to ensure that prime parking spaces are left open for visitors and shoppers, while employees have a place to park while at work.

The six-month permits cost $20, and roughly 400 permits are issued each year. The current permits expire on April 30.

Deputy City Manager Morgan Smith has been working with the Chamber of Commerce, which has managed the program for the last several years.

In the fall of 2010, the council decided that the permit fees collected by the chamber should be given to the city. The chamber was asked to enter into a new agreement that would give the fees to the city and reimburse the chamber for direct program costs.

Prior to that time, the chamber had kept all of the fees it had collected. The chamber agreed to pay a one-time payment of $4,000 for previously collected fees, paid to the city on March 10.

In January, Smith met with City Attorney Jack Johnson and chamber officials to discuss the new contract language. At that time, the chamber proposed a 100 percent increase to the permit fee from $20 to $40 in order to provide a $20 per permit fee for administrative costs.

The city countered with a “more reasonable administrative fee” that the chamber objected to.

At Wednesday’s council meeting, Smith recommended that the city take over the parking permit program and administer the program through the Police Department and its parking enforcement officers.

“I believe the adoption of the chamber’s proposed rate of $40 is so high as to risk deterring users, limiting the usefulness and benefit of this important program,” said Smith in a memo to the council.

Smith recommended that the city maintain a permit fee of $20 for the next renewal period through Oct. 31 and determine at that time if its necessary to raise the fee to cover administrative costs.

“If the city wants to take over the program that’s fine by me,” said Kevin Dwyer, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce. “There is some hassle factor that the city I’m sure will run into. I don’t know where else you can park for six months at a time for just $40.”

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