Consolidated Public Works Board member Nancy Shobe speaks at the board's Oct. 22 meeting.

Consolidated hears estimated cost of full-time parking enforcement officer, software to enforce policy

BUCKHANNON – Mayor Robbie Skinner told members of the city’s Consolidated Public Works Board Thursday that city council wants to come up with an updated parking ordinance that benefits businesses, visitors and community members alike.

At its Thursday Oct. 22 meeting, the Buckhannon Consolidated Public Works Board discussed the previous city council meeting where councilors decided to table the first reading of an updated parking ordinance and went back to the drawing board.

Director of Finance/Administration for the City of Buckhannon Amby Jenkins gave the board its financial report for the month of October and told the board how much it would cost to transition a person to a full-time parking enforcement officer position.

She also shared the first ballpark price she received regarding parking management software. At council’s Oct. 15 meeting, councilman Jack Reger said if the city was going to consistently enforce its parking policy, perhaps it needed to invest in technology that would make consistent enforcement more feasible.

“It’s really a big ballpark number because it’s similar to what Morgantown uses and they would need to know more details about what we want, but they threw me out a number of $40,000 a year,” Jenkins said. “If we went to a full-time parking enforcement officer, that’s going to be about $36,000 a year for all the benefits of a full-time person.”

Board member Nancy Shobe asked why the first draft of the parking ordinance they discussed previously did not make it past the first reading at the council meeting. Board member and city council member CJ Rylands said there were several items the council could not work out during that meeting, so they decided to discuss it further and talk about it again at their next meeting.

“My main point was, we had one person come in, complaining about one other person,” Rylands said. “I don’t want to throw away the original process that we went through doing this study, vetting it with the Chamber of Commerce, the CVB, the public meetings and then basically not enforce that plan, causing the issues that were brought up by the individual complaining about the current system.”

However, Rylands said he didn’t disagree that the current parking ordinances on file could use some cleaning up.

“I think we don’t disagree with the fact that it was a little convoluted and some of these things weren’t necessarily effective,” he added.

Rylands said the council agreed to retain the two-warning system, buy you can only have one warning a day.

“If you’re parked and you get a warning and you’re still there and they come back around, you’re going to get a ticket,” Rylands said. “The cumulative nature that it’s two hours, no matter where you are on the street, during a 24-hour period.”

Skinner said these new rules are why they are looking at purchasing the parking software.

“If my license plate is in front of Jesterline and then it’s seen again in front of Fish Hawk in the same 24-hour period, and I’m over that two-hour limit then that gives me a warning, instead of just resetting,” Skinner said.

City recorder Randy Sanders said the punitive aspects of the ordinance is what still needed to be worked out.

“Where we got hung up was the punitive side, how tough we want to be? How long do we want to let things that stay on your record? And we’re working that out,” Sanders said. “Our objective is not to collect a bunch of money; it’s to keep cars moving.”

Skinner said they needed to find a way to make sure the policy is friendly to businesses and people wanting to do business on Main Street.

“We’ve got to keep these vehicles moving, and I’ve seen some comments from some folks saying, ‘well, changing the way parking is done on Main Street is going to hurt business,”’ Skinner said. “It’s hurting business right now to have spaces clogged up all day long, because there’s a value assigned to the parking space, and if that’s being taken up for hours upon hours throughout the day, a business is losing potential revenue.”

Sanders said they hope to get a draft hammered out for the next City Council meeting Nov. 5.

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