City targets state parking ticket surcharge

December 5, 2018

Last year, 39,695 Rochester parking tickets generated $476,340 in state revenue.

While the numbers are still out for 2018, city administrators want to push for an end to the $12-per-ticket fee sent to the state.

“That’s sort of a creature of some previous state financial difficulties,” Deputy City Administrator Aaron Parrish told the Rochester City Council Monday.

In 2003, a $3 state parking surcharge was implemented in an effort to raise revenues without increasing taxes. An additional $1 per ticket was collected three years later, when the city charged $9 for overstaying in a parking space, sending $4 of those dollars to the state.

Today, the same ticket will cost a driver $17, but the city still keeps only $5, with $12 headed to St. Paul.

The city’s administration is hoping the city council will support making efforts to reverse the state charge a legislative priority for 2019.

In a report to the council, city staff noted tickets are issued to ensure adequate turnover at parking meters and other public spaces, but the added state fee doesn’t contribute to that effort.

Additionally, it has hampered the city’s ability to properly adjust the parking fees to cover the cost of enforcing the parking rules and administering fines, according to city staff.

While a parking study conducted this year suggested that the city consider raising the cost for overstaying at a meter to $20, the council approved a 2019 fee schedule on Monday that keeps the $17 fine in place.

The study also called for increasing other parking fines by $2 to $3 apiece. Doing so could generate approximately $100,000 for the city next year, the report states.

The estimated city revenue for this year if the higher fees were in place — $406,818 — would still be less than the amount the state received from Rochester tickets in 2017.

Other legislative priorities suggested by city staff include:

• Seeking $6 million in state transportation funds and $40 million in federal funding for a $50 million project for runway reconstruction and safety improvements at Rochester International Airport.

• Seeking a $1.5 million investment to support a proposed trail connection between the Willow Creek area and Gamehaven Regional Park.

• Requesting $2.75 million to support continued development of Cascade Regional Park.

• Seeking a classification for the city’s transportation management association, Arrive Rochester, to ensure rideshare data collected is protected.

• Creating a street improvement district for Rochester to allow the city to develop a long-term financial plan to address growing infrastructure needs, which faces an estimated $22 million funding gap.

• Supporting additional funding for the state’s Local Bridge Replacement Program.

• Requesting support for additional funding of $124 million for the Point Source Implementation Grant program to help with the cost of water infrastructure projects necessary to meet the state requirements.

• Creating options to help decrease phosphorus levels in Rochester wastewater.

The council will consider the recommended priorities, along with suggestions from individual members, at a later council meeting.

The Minnesota Legislature’s 2019 session will start Jan. 8.

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