Cincinnati City Council votes to buy new parking meters

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati City Council has voted to buy new parking meters and set various conditions on any parking deal, including local control.

Council voted 5-3 Wednesday for new meters, with Amy Murray, Chris Seelbach and Wendell Young opposed.

The second vote was 7-1 with Seelbach opposed.

Yvette Simpson, traveling in Asia, was absent from Wednesday's meeting.

Council’s neighborhoods committee recently approved buying 3,618 new meters that accept credit cards.

Smartphone accessibility can be added later, city officials said.

Follow the meeting with reporter Kevin Osborne @kevinwcpo .

The city has thousands of meters that accept only coins, including 1,431 in downtown.

City officials said nearly half of the meters in Over-the-Rhine are broken at any one time.

Mayor John Cranley said meter collections have dropped from about $11 million in 2008 to $7 million in 2013.

"The reason is we haven't made this a priority ...," Cranley said. "What we do know is we're not enforcing the current parking hours right now."

"The foremost use of the parking system isn't as some sort of commodity to maximize revenue. It's to serve residents," council member P.G. Sittenfeld said.

"If this gets the leadership and attention it deserves, I imagine three years from now we'll say it's a great system."

"It's not the worst plan in the world ...," Seelbach said, "but does it fully utilize our system? I don't know.

"I'd just rather not do this piecemeal."  

The vote could also decide the fate of the previous parking lease between the city and the Port Authority. That agreement included a large upfront payment to the city for help with the general fund budget and to grow the city’s tax base.

The port would have leased all the city's parking meters and most garages.

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