BILLINGS — If you’re shopping downtown, you won’t have to pay for metered parking until Jan. 2. It’s the second year the Downtown Billings Alliance and the city have collaborated to give shoppers one less thing to worry about during the holiday season.
Downtown Billings was busy this Tuesday whether residents were out shopping or working, and that meant parking spaces were almost impossible to find.
“I’m in Billings once a week,” said Bozeman resident Davey Rabinowitz on Tuesday.
Rabinowitz drives down to Billings for work, and lucky for him, he won’t have to worry about paying for metered parking until the new year arrives.
“It’s great to kind of see the city giving back with free parking,” Rabinowitz said.
Made possible by the DBA, all 753 of the city’s parking meters have been covered with plastic bags.
“It supports the economy locally and it supports all these amazing businesses that we have and their workforce,” said Mehmet Casey, the development director at the Downtown Billings Alliance.
The city’s parking division does take a hit due to the lack of revenue but will ultimately be reimbursed $30,000 from the city's downtown tax increment finance district to cover operational costs.
You do still have to pay to park in parking lots, 10-hour permit spaces, and private lots, and free metered parking doesn’t mean you can park downtown all day.
“We remind folks to try their best to abide by the two-hour free parking,” Casey said.
Glenn Boone was downtown this Tuesday to get his haircut. He’s lived in Billings for two years.
“I think it’s great, it’s a great idea. It’s a break for the community that always has to pay for parking for the rest of the year,” Boone said.
But others, like Rabinowitz, don’t mind paying for parking as they know the money goes toward improving the city, especially since Billings is growing.
“At the same time, those 50 cents that I put in for 25 minutes, that goes back into the city for road maintenance and whatever it is,” said Rabinowitz.
Casey is elated that the DBA and the city of Billings could spread some holiday cheer.
“The day we were putting them up, we were hearing comments from people that we were making them very happy,” said Casey.