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Fuss Over Parking Fees In Dallas

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The City of Dallas has finalized its budget for the upcoming fiscal year starting October first. Good news for residents: no tax increase. But final approval was held up over an argument about—parking spaces.

Discussion on final passage of a budget was waylaid awhile over parking fees for twenty-six parking spaces that aren’t even available yet.

“We’ve got to make sure there are parking spots for our citizens,” said Mike Rawlings, who was talking about the deck park over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, the Klyde Warren Park, which will open in late October.

The city must decide whether to install meters and how much to charge. But the way the agenda was arranged, this 25-thousand dollar revenue issue had to be resolved before legally passing the $2.56 billion budget. So why is parking at a park a problem? The downtown location, according to Dallas’ first assistant city manager, A.C. Gonzales. “We’re already seeing some activities that people that are working in the area using those parking areas—even with all the construction to park and walk on over there to their jobs.”

The foundation running the park believes meters are needed to insure everyone can gain access throughout the day. Celia Barshop explained the thinking. “Quite frankly to discourage people from maybe coming down here and parking too long,” she said adding, “With the turnover constantly being made with metered parking we give the opportunity for those people who live maybe in South Dallas, east West or North to come down for specific programs.”

But many council members balked at a proposed rate $2.50 an hour. So—despite a upscale new budget offering employee raises, doing away with mandatory furloughs, and restoring funds to parks and libraries—budget talk went on the back burner to hash out parking.

Dwaine Caraway wondered about why there was so much focus on this new park. “I find it a little uncomfortable that we’re concerned about the $2.50 but we say nothing, you’ve said nothing about the $10 they charge at Fair Park,” he said, speaking of special event parking in the South Dallas venue.

Other council members had other ideas. “With a 21st century park we probably need a 21st century pricing model,” said Scott Griggs, speaking of a kind of floating fee structure dependent on time of day or special events.

Eventually council members got down to brass tacks; Tennell Atkins summed it up. “We’re playing around with the budget right now; we should go ahead and pass this and come back and want to readjust it and come back to it.”

The parking pricing issue was deferred and the budget eventually passed unanimously.

But council members did vote to boost fees on water use and some services. According to council briefings, the average residential user could see water bills run an additional $3.62 or less a month.

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