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Parking rates to increase in downtown Billings

Posted at 8:21 PM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 00:33:54-04

BILLINGS – Whether it’s at the garage or on the street, people will be paying more to park after the Billings City Council voted unanimously Monday to raise parking rates across the city in August.

Next month, all meters will charge $1 per hour for the first two hours and increase to $2 for the third hour. Three hours is the maximum time one can park at a meter.

General reserved, basement/assigned, and roof reserved parking rates will increase in August as well. Those rates will increase an additional 5 percent in 2021 and 2022.

The council voted to raise the rates because 2020 is expected to be the last year that the parking division will receive $100,000 from the downtown tax-increment financing (TIF) district.

Without the $100,000 in TIF money, the parking division will be about $59,000 short in its 2020 budget.

“Our working capital would cover the $59,000 difference to balance the budget. However, this can not continue,” said Billings Parking Manager Tracy Scott.

The increase in parking rates is expected to bring in about $67,000 in 2020- enough to cover the shortfall.

The $100,000 in TIF money had previously been used for parking garage maintenance.

Scott said the parking division will do more to make up for the expiring TIF money.

“The current plan is to have the funds earmarked for the maintenance reserve fund to help preservation of the garages,” Scott said. “Our future goal is to adjust the budget so that we can set aside $130,000 a year for maintenance reserve fund in addition to about $70,000 in capital expenses.”

The Billings Parking Division is also rolling out its use of the Pay by Phone app (available for Andriod here and iPhones here.) This app will allow people to pay for their parking via their cell phone instead of digging for change.

To add more convenience, the division is working to install sensors in all on-street parking meters. This would allow people using the Pay by Phone app to see which spots are available at any time. The division is currently testing which sensors would work best with the weather in Billings.