The Bright Side

The city council just approved spending a ½ a million dollars on new parking kiosks.
The stated purpose of the new kiosks is to make them easier to use; however, that by itself would not justify spending ½ million dollars so what is the real motive? These new kiosks don’t have a dollar bill changer and draw less current, so they can function year-round; whereas, the current kiosks with the dollar bill changer cannot. This difference makes the new kiosks available for increased parking revenue by increasing the paid parking season up to potentially year-round.

It once started in May, then April and now March. For a lot less than ½ million dollars maybe the city could just remove the dollar bill changers from the existing kiosks and make the current kiosks year-round too. These new kiosks have a touch screen which should make them easier to use, and they are 30 seconds faster than the old kiosks, but they were sectional and you will have to go to the one designated for the section that you are in, which may be very confusing when you are equidistant from two or can’t see the kiosk from where you are. But this issue was not explained in detail. The new kiosks will only accept credit cards and coins, which does exclude those without credit cards or a pocket full of coins (although it did not say what coins could be used-pennies to dollar coins?), which although a disadvantage for some, it is not unreasonable because the handicapped can park in any spot and not pay, and the non-handicapped should be able to park at a greater distance at one of the free parking spots.

Some will be inconvenienced by the no dollar bill changers, but no one is being denied parking by this change. Without these options kiosks that don’t accept dollar bills would be unacceptable as experienced by a person in a Milwaukee parking lot next to the Amtrak station. A person who only had cash and the parking kiosks that would only accept credit cards created a problem. They had to wait and ask other people until someone with a credit card would accept the cash and purchase the ticket. Leaving the car without the ticket for parking meant that the car would be impounded and waiting much longer meant that the parker could have missed the train. Fortunately, a person accepted the money and made that transaction. There are always unforeseen consequences for our actions, but before investing a ½ million dollars in new kiosks, the city should have reviewed the kiosks more carefully and not only from a revenue point of view but also from the impact on businesses.

Look at Main Street and see the vacant stores, review the rapid rate of business turnovers and failures and ask how much does the parking meter cost contribute to the failures, and how much do the high city taxes contribute to the high rents that cause businesses to fail. How much of the city’s financial problems are caused or enhanced by the city itself? If Wal-mart charged $2.00 an hour to park, do you think it might affect its business, and what is the negative impact of these vacant (dark stores) in the city’s downtown on the City of Lake Geneva and its image? What impact does the increase of the parking rates have on business? The impact is similar to a business charging an entrance fee or a cover charge. It becomes a barrier that detours those with marginal interest and/or those with lower financial means.

As parking fees are increased, it raises that barrier and further reduces those who will cross that barrier and park there. In the City of Lake Geneva, in the downtown area, there is an evacuation of non-residents every morning at local restaurants between 8:45 am and 9:00 am when paid parking begins. Just as some non-residents wait until after 5:00 pm to go to the beach when it is free. Initially charging for parking or increasing the rate for parking has little effect, as long as the parking stalls are filled, except to increase city revenue, but also increase the number of people that don’t return. In addition to the 1 or 2 dollars an hour fee for parking, there is the hassle of going to the kiosks to pay the fee.

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