At its Friday work session, the Starkville Board of Aldermen heard a presentation from one of two firms being considered to install parking meters in downtown Starkville.
Sherry Fountain form the San Diego-based IPS group gave a presentation to the board discussing the city’s options for parking meters. Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said the IPS group was one of two firms the city was working with for the parking meters. The second firm is scheduled to present at the board’s next work sessions. As with all work sessions, no action was taken.
“We provide the equipment, you put it on the street, and you manage that however you want to,” Fountain said.
Spruill said the previous board had looked into parking meters, but the current board had only just begun to look into the possibility.
”The Main Street Association, the Partnership and other organizations have kind of toyed with this idea over the years,” Spruill said.
Ward 6 Alderman and Vice Mayor Roy A’. Perkins said some of his constituents had expressed concerns over parking meters.
“I don’t know if this is a revenue generating matter or not,” Perkins said. “Over my 26 years here, there have been questions about downtown parking, but the other boards in the past have always seemed to solve the matter by having free downtown parking.
Perkins suggested increasing the hours for the city’s part-time downtown parking officer if there were issues with downtown parking.
“Are we trying to generate revenue,” Perkins said. “If that is the case, and it may not be, then we could look at other means to do that. Some people are going to get discouraged seeing the parking meters downtown. Some people aren’t going to find any money in their pocket to park.”
Perkins also said he would like to see more citizen input, and suggested holding public hearings to ensure they were really needed should the city choose to install meters.
In response to Perkins’ concerns Spruill said there had been dialogue leading to the possibility of meters.
“I happen to think that we as a board have an obligation to look at all kinds of ideas for our city whether it is parking meters, whether it’s go-cup, whether it is parks or it is annexation, so I don’t think I’m here to be a caretaker, I think I’m here to get things done,” Spruill said.
She emphasized that the presentation was an opportunity to learn.
Ward 7 Alderman said it was his first time hearing about the meters, although Fountain sad she had been in contact with Main Street regarding meters for six or seven years.
“It’s been private individuals down at Main Street,” Fountain said. “It has not been anyone from the city. It’s been individuals involved with the city that have been contacting me.”
Fountain said IPS would have a solution for the city when and if they decided to install meters.
“We’ve got everything from single-space meters to pay stations, pay by sell, merchant processing,” Fountain said. “We can offer you a system that’s a full ecosystem. You don’t have to step out of that box. You’ve got everything online under one umbrella.”
She said the majority of paid parking transactions were on credit cards currently. However, customers can still pay with cash if they desire. The company currently has 250,000 units deployed across the country. Among the firm’s customers is the city of Oxford.
“No one carries cash in their pocket anymore,” Fountain said. “Everybody’s got their credit card, debit card or their cell phone.”
Fountain said Oxford had been able to build a parking garage with funds collected from the meters.
She said Starkville’s least expensive option would likely be multi-space meters, since the city does not currently have parking meters. She said a unit would cost close to $6,800. With the system, a user would purchase a ticket from the meter and place it on her dashboard.