A parking rate increase was added to the agenda and things got heated as Mr. Fleming (a Lake Geneva business owner) voiced his opposition (as he did at the FLR meeting the night before) to any increase in the parking rates.
Roger Wolf, and another business owner Bruce Bennett, were also opposed to any increases and would like other options to be considered. Possible options presented were: raising all rates to two dollars an hour across the board, keeping meters operating additional hours, or even year-round paid parking.
After what seemed like two years, and a hundred presentations, and parking kiosk updates (requested by board members and city officials), the parking kiosk changes may be finally decided. Sylvia Mullally, Lake Geneva’s Parking Manager, presented her recommendation of what is needed for technological efficiency and user-friendly parking kiosks, and how many meters are actually needed. Finally, a motion was made to move on to the Monday night city council meeting for final approval of the purchase of sixty-three Flowbird CWT Stealth Kiosks to Total Parking Solutions at a cost not to exceed $416,241, however, the city council voted no. They passed the purchase of new machines, but cut the number to fifty, for no clear reason.
The discussion regarding the parking rate increase from $2 to $3 was also discussed at last week’s FLR meeting. The idea did not go over well with either the business district members or the residents of Lake Geneva. Several of the business owners (especially Fleming and Bennett) were in attendance at the meeting, and voiced serious concerns and a dislike of the increase, and requested that the issue be discussed with the business community at the BID. The BID meeting included Sylvia who was ready and willing to answer any questions. The questions sounded and felt more like attacks, and demands. Sylvia Mullally may be the parking manager, but she is not the one who came up with this plan, city officials did when they realized they were short on revenue for the annual budget. Sylvia was asked to crunch some numbers and provide a few scenarios on how the money could be collected. She was simply doing her job, which she does very well.
After things got heated, BID members decided to schedule another meeting inviting the entire business district. The meeting was held Friday morning and very well attended. The open forum meeting gave anyone with ideas time to share them, as well as comment on each other’s suggestions. It was unanimous that no one wanted an increase in the parking rates. In fact, the need for more parking was repeatedly brought up. One suggestion was to move the residents with stickers to the parking lots behind the downtown stores and free up the prime parking for customers. This, however, was not a popular idea and was quickly shut down. In fact, another idea (which will be submitted at the next FLR meeting) is to keep the privilege of two-hour parking free for residents with stickers and to give residents 24/7 free parking in suggested parking lots. It was clear that the residents matter. The issue will be continued at the next finance, licensing, and regulation meeting on January 21. Input from the BID meetings, and data collected from the parking department, will all be considered.
Strangely, at the city council meeting, and upon the request of City Council President John Halvorson, amended the vote to only provide 50 meters instead of the 63 requested. The amount of money was left the same (just over 400,000) because the price per meter will go up with a lesser discount applied for less volume in the purchase. A strange turn of events, but there it is.