Coeur d’Alene’s mayor cast the deciding vote this week to accept a new fee schedule for parking and water rates after three council members voted against the increases.
Mayor Steve Widmyer’s tie-breaking vote Tuesday gave the city the green light to raise water rates and capitalization fees, amend city parking fees and impose increases for police security, traffic control and street lighting fees. Amendments also included animal control fees, licenses and animal impound fees.
The latest parking rate changes include a $15 monthly flat fee for parking at the new downtown parking structure, and raises parking fees at McEuen Park from free parking for the first two hours, to a dollar an hour — $2 per hour for oversize vehicles.
Parking at Independence Point will be $2 per hour in the winter — an increase of a buck — and $3 per hour from May 1 to Sept. 30. Rates at the North Idaho Museum were increased from $1 to $2 per hour, and parking at Memorial Field will remain at a buck an hour.
Dock rates for boats are $2 per hour for boats and $25 overnight.
The new parking fee schedule differs from a recommendation by a city-paid consultant that showed consistent parking fees throughout downtown areas keeps people coming back.
Council member Dan Gookin cited the study when he questioned the latest fees, but Widmyer said the increases reflect demand.
“It seems like we’re going back despite what the consultant we paid for said,” Gookin said.
Prime parking costs more, Widmyer said.
“In most areas, premium parking you pay more for, and Independence Point is premium parking,” Widmyer said. “We believe parking should be charged according to people’s desire to park in certain spaces.”
Library and City Hall parking will be free for the first two hours, and city employees can park for free while they work.
City administrator Troy Tymesen said prime street parking, and parking in the new downtown garage is free for two hours. Because private lots do not have the same rates across the city, there would be no standardization. Nonetheless, there are still a lot of opportunities for low-cost parking.
“Very inexpensive parking does take place in the downtown area,” Tymesen said.
Water rate increases include a 3.5 percent increase on monthly water rates and one-time cap fees. Volume rates — charged per 1,000 gallons of useage — will also increase according to different tiers. Residential, nonresidential and agricultural users will be divided into three rate categories from low to mid, to high use.
“We’re trying to send some price signals out there in terms of those constraint peak time periods during the summertime,” consultant Angie Sanchez Virnoche said.
Water rate increases will be implemented April 1 and increase incrementally each year until 2023.
Gookin was among council members to vote against the increases because, he said, the council made a promise to allow for free boat trailer parking — the latest increase charges $2 per hour for oversize vehicles — at the Fourth Street launch.
“I am OK with all the fee increases except for parking,” Gookin said. “When we built McEuen, one of the promises we made to the public is that there would be free boat trailer parking south of City Hall and that promise will be broken tonight.”
Nay votes included Ron Edinger and Kiki Miller. Woody McEvers, Amy Evans and Dan English voted for the increases.
Because some of the increases are greater than 5 percent, they had to be first presented to the council and approved as a resolution.
The latest fee schedule has been publicized and has been on the city website since Jan. 22, City Clerk Renata McLeod said.
“We’ve received no comments on that, so far,” McLeod said.