Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

City Weighs Eliminating Free Sunday Parking

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

City Weighs Eliminating Free Sunday Parking

Article excerpt

PASSAIC -- Hungry for money, the city is considering a plan to dramatically increase the number of parking meters and their hours of operation -- and to eliminate free parking on Sunday.

The cash-strapped Passaic Parking Authority has recommended installing parking meters outside the local campus Passaic County Community College and a section of Third Ward Memorial Park on Benson Avenue -- two areas that draw hordes of daily commuters. The parking authority also wants to expand daily meter enforcement by two hours to 8 p.m. and eliminate traditionally free Sunday parking altogether.

The recommendations were forwarded last week to the City Council, which governs the parking authority and will decide what changes, if any, to make. A committee comprised of City Council members Terrence L. Love, Zaida Polanco and Hector C. Lora has been set up to consider the changes.

"Everything is on the table and no decision has been made," Lora said. "Before we do anything, we will listen to the residents because they are our first priority."

The parking authority, despite an aggressive ticket-writing campaign, is running in the red and expected to rack up a $130,000 deficit in its $1.1 million budget by the time the fiscal year ends on June 30.

The authority was supposed to operate on a break-even basis when it was created in 2006. If the recommendations become law, Passaic would become the first city in North Jersey to require commuters to plunk quarters into a meter on Sunday. Paterson, Jersey City, Hackensack and Hoboken all have free parking on Sunday.

Ted Evans, the executive director of the parking authority, said the shortfall is due mainly to a drop in the amount of money collected from parking fines. Passaic collected $569,600 in fines in the 2010 budget year, but only $469,000 last year. "I guess people are paying more attention to the meter," Evans said. "The trend is toward less revenue being generated through parking fines."

The City Council created the parking authority in 2006 as a way to close a $2 million budget gap. The parking authority floated $2.95 million in bonds to buy seven parking lots from the city. The debt isn't scheduled to be paid off until 2019.

For students, installing meters at Passaic County Community College was about as popular an idea as raising tuition. …

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