Town officials say they plan to increase parking meter rates in downtown New Canaan, as well as the amount of money that motorists will pay for eight types of violations.
The meter rate increases follow from a state sales tax of 6.35% that “the town has been eating” since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, according to Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg.
The town has not increased the meter rates in many years, she told members of the Parking Commission at their March 1 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. The rates will change as follows, she said: 15 minutes (25 to 30 cents), 30 minutes (50 to 55 cents), 45 minutes (75 to 80 cents) and one hour ($1 to $1.25).
The six-hour flat rates for parking in three business lots—Playhouse, Park Street and Morse Court—will increase from $3 to $3.50, while two lots on the edge of the downtown, at Center School and Locust, will go from 50 cents to 55 cents per hour, she said.
The increased rates will go into effect April 1, Miltenberg said. Asked by Parking Commission Chair Jennifer Donovan how the town is notifying residents about the change, Miltenberg named two legacy news outlets and the municipal website.
Donovan said, “We have to be consistent with other towns, Ii would think. The sales tax, I think people are getting hit every which way with inflation and it seems like a bad time to do that, but it’s OK.”
The town also is raising parking fines for eight types of common violations by $5, Miltenberg said: unpaid space ($25 to $30), overtime parking ($25 to $30), loading zone ($30 to $35), no parking zone ($30 to $35), crosswalk ($75 to $80), double parking ($50 to $55), no permit ($30 to $35) and unpaid space at the train station ($30 to $35). The fees have not been increased since 2014, Miltenberg said.
Donovan asked whether the state takes a percentage of what the town collects from parking violations. Miltenberg said no.
Administrative Officer Tucker Murphy, a guest at the meeting, said New Canaan’s fees are going up “a little bit.”
“And the reason why this was important to sort out now is this affects her budget so that is why we have to approve all of these fees,” Murphy said.
The Parking Commission did not vote on the fee increases. Miltenberg said the Board of Selectmen had approved the rate increases during its Jan. 31 meeting. In the past, the Commission itself voted on such fee increases prior to approval by the selectmen.