We have some updates today on parking in downtown Rome, pegged to two watermark events. At issue:
- The initial impact of extended “free parking” on downtown streets from two to three hours effective May 20 (including a rollback of enforcement hours to 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday).
- The use of the new license plate reader car that patrols city streets and parking decks/lots, gathering license plate data to assess trends, fines and such.
Hometown Headlines filed an Open Records Request with the city of Rome, including City Attorney Andy Davis, on Monday, seeking updated parking fine details as well as reports on the data gathered by the repeated license plate reader sweeps of downtown. Reports from downtown merchants tell us that preliminary data they’ve heard shows length of the average parking spot use, frequent violators and such.
While some data was presented at a recent City Commission caucus meeting, nothing apparently is on file (caucus meetings, where much of that evening’s City Commission action is basically resolved, are not broadcast; no minutes are kept, we’re told).
We received this response from Davis on our Open Records Request on license plate data:
“At this point, it my understanding that the other items you have requested are not available because the software phase of the project (license reader) is still being programmed. It is anticipated that at the end of the year, the system should be fully operational, and detailed analytics will be presented and available.”
The mobile unit, a tricked out sedan with a driver and data collections person, has been on patrol since May.
What we do have are the May and June parking reports for downtown Rome courtesy of the records request.
The May report has been the subject of some debate because of the four high school graduations staged downtown that month. The city had announced enforcement of stricter parking regulations (the two-hour parking limit, extended to 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. effective the Monday before graduations). Backlash reversed that the decision the night it went into effect. Still, there were concerns about parking enforcement during graduations.
- The data presented by the city shows $3,204 in fines were paid in the month of May (that revenue could be fines paid from earlier citations). That’s about $1,000 more than May 2018 ($2,273).
- For June, the city reports $3,113 in parking fine revenue, down more than $2,000 from $5,503 collected in June 2018.
Through six months, city parking fine revenue revenue totals $21,049 (Jan. 1-June 30) vs. $19,495 during the same six months in 2018. The city has budgeted $50,000 in parking fine revenue for calendar year 2019.
Fact check: What about the revenue raised from downtown Rome parking fines. What we found: Those tickets generate an average of $34,291 a year. April sees the most money; September the least. Click Parking