Noting that a new sales tax from the state will drive the rates up substantially, municipal officials voted last week to recommend keeping the town’s parking permit fees flat next fiscal year.
The Parking Commission voted 4-1 to leave the fees for permits at eight municipal lots flat, though motorists should expect to see a 6.35% sales tax broken out on their annual bills.
The state tax “is a sizable increase, much bigger than any increase we have done in my entire term on the Parking Commission,” Chair Keith Richey said at the March 4 meeting, held at Town Hall.
“And obviously this huge increase that would go along even if we didn’t increase the rates but just passed along the sales tax,” he added. “That will not add to our permit revenue. It will go to state coffers.”
Commissioners Laura Budd, Secretary Pam Crum and Peter Ogilvie voted with Richey in favor of the following fee structure. Commissioner Chris Hering voted against:
New Canaan Parking Permit Rates
|Parking Lot||Current||Current + sales tax|
|Center School Lot||$150||$159.53|
Hering proposed that the Commission ensure that those purchasing permits for the Railroad/Lumberyard Lot continue to pay $624 inclusive of the new sales tax. Hering pointed to New Canaan’s relatively high permit costs for commuter parking permits, even compared to towns that offer more frequent trains that get to Manhattan faster:
Parking Permit Price Comparison
|Station||2019-20||Time to GCT||Trains 5-9 a.m.||Annual MNR***|
|Fairfield Metro||$400||87 mins||15||$4,692|
|Fairfield Center||$400||83 mins||16||$4,692|
|Greens Farms||$325||78 mins||10||$4,692|
|New Canaan||$624||70 mins||6||$4,020|
|Talmadge Hill||$474||65 mins||6||$4,020|
|Old Greenwich||$456||59 mins||13||$3,612|
|Cos Cob||$456||53 mins||13||$3,612|
|Greenwich Plaza||$720**||50 mins||20||$3,612|
* Residents and nonresidents
** Residents only, covered garage
*** MNR is Metro-North Railroad
First Selectmen Kevin Moynihan, a guest at the meeting, said of New Canaan’s parking permit fees, “Given the tax, I would definitely not increase and I could see us recommending that we lower them.”
“I am struck by the fact that the Lumberyard is so high compared to all the other stations,” he said.
Given that 701 Lumberyard/Railroad permits are sold, it would cost the town about $27,000 per year to absorb the new sales tax on behalf of those permit-holders, officials said.
Richey said the town still has a six- to seven-year waiting list for permits to the lot, “so we have a market demand situation where you could even increase the charge.”
“I would say the town is not in such great shape that I would be cutting rates,” Richey added. “I [also] do not want to increase them because this is a big hit to people.”
The Board of Selectmen must decide whether to adopt the Parking Commission’s recommendations and can make changes prior to its own final vote.
Crum asked whether, in sending out renewal notices in May, the Parking Bureau should round out the fees and get rid of the cents, so that they’re whole numbers.
Budd pushed back on that idea. “I think it’s important [to keep the entire figure, including cents], because I think most consumers do not know about this tax,” she said. “So I think it should be broken out: We are holding your rate and here is what the state is getting.”
When Hering said that the city of Norwalk is absorbing the sales tax on behalf of its own parking permit-holders, Ogilvie said, “Norwalk has a big commercial tax base which New Canaan lacks.”
He added that Hering’s plan would see New Canaan “essentially subsidizing commuters at the expense of residents” who are not permit-holders and would have to make up the difference in taxes.
Hering responded, “I would not say we are ‘subsidizing.’ I would just say we are adjusting commuter rates to our peer communities.”