Elisa Esses Raising parking fees bad for Stamford

January 3, 2019

I will be unable to attend the Jan. 7 public hearing on fees, but, feel the Board of Representatives of Stamford should vote no to fee hikes and enhanced hours of enforcement for on-street parking, city-owned garages, and parking lots including commuter lots.

Proposed fee hikes for parking will hurt residents, merchants, and prospective home buyers. Rather than raising fees (i.e., taxes by another name), the administration should be accountable to use the budget as originally approved last spring. Potential increases in sources of revenue should be looked at during the budgeting process as a holistic process.

The work the Board of Representatives did in cutting some of the budget increases the mayor wanted is made irrelevant if the budget is now ignored by a bunch of fee increases. Increasing fees while telling Stamford residents there is “no tax increase” is wrong. It is the responsibility of the administration to operate within the budget. I urge you to consider fee increases during the budgeting process and not later, as you are doing now.

Stamford home prices have still not recovered from the last recession. One of the biggest draws to Stamford is that our taxes are less than in Westchester County. If we continually raise the cost of living in Stamford, we will lose this edge over time. Our mill rate is higher than the rates in Darien, New Canaan, and Greenwich, and we have trouble competing on the quality of schools. Keeping taxes and fees lower gives us a little chance to compete against our Fairfield and Westchester county neighbors as a desirable place to live and raise a family.

Regarding fees and taxes associated with cars, Stamford residents are taxed when buying a car, taxed for owning a car, taxed when purchasing gas, taxed for parking the car, and soon we will be taxed by a toll while driving on our highways. Enough is enough. Given the proposed parking and garage fee increases, an average Stamford family that must commute to New York City for work, dine out (one per week), and shop once per month would see an $250 annual increase or 37 percent increase in parking fees. This hurts our residents and will be factored in the decision for prospective homebuyers in Stamford.

Lastly, raising parking fees are not good for merchants. Just this year I intended to go to a movie, ironically during the Alive@Five event. Garage parking was priced at $10 to park (more than the cost of the movie). I turned around and left, no movie, no parking, no dinner in the area. These fees add up.

Help make Stamford the best place to live. Don’t burden us with ever-increasing taxes and fees.

Thank you for your consideration.

Elisa Esses is a Stamford resident.

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