With plans for paid parking in Byron’s CBD sparking a flurry of complaints from residents, Byron Shire Council’s general manager Ken Gainger has responded to some of the issues raised.
They ranged from why residents should have to pay the fourfold increase in the existing parking fee and comparisons to Sydney.
Council will soon increase fees to $4 per hour for on-street and council-owned car parks.
The existing off-street parking residents’ $25-per- year coupon will increase to $100 per year.
It’s expected to yield up to $2 million per year and, according to mayor Simon Richardson, will be used to pay for the impacts of tourism ‘and to provide better amenities for us.’
Mr Gainger said the rationale behind paid parking was to better manage parking availability in Byron and to generate additional revenue to invest in roads and associated infrastructure.
‘In the absence of a paid parking scheme, council would have no alternative but to significantly increase rates.
‘This would just compound the current lack of equity in infrastructure funding whereby our 1.5 million visitors don’t contribute to infrastructure renewal. Council has restrained growth in rates to the basic annual rate peg limit (this year 2.4 per cent) since 2008/9.’
Mr Gainger explained why residents will need a voucher to park.
‘It is not viable to introduce a paid-parking scheme that only charges visitors. The technology, signage and enforcement costs are significant and a “visitor only” scheme would provide a very low net return to council.’
‘This would not support the additional expenditure required for our roads and other infrastructure.
He says the annual $100 parking exemption fee entitles residents to park free in any on-street/off-street carpark as long as they park in accordance with the signed time limits.
As for the fourfold increase in the existing parking fee, Mr Gainger said, ‘The current $25 pa voucher scheme has a very low take-up by residents and is unrealistically low by any standards.
‘With the introduction of paid on-street parking the value residents will derive over 12 months at $100 pa (27 cents per day providing a benefit of $4 per hour of parking) is considerably higher.’
Finally, comparisons to Sydney are not realistic, claims Mr Gainger, when population density and ratepayer base are considered.
‘Byron has a population of 32,000 and only 14,000 ratepayers, he said, ‘therefore our comparative ability to fund a viable paid-parking scheme that exempts residents and ratepayers is minimal.’
Extensive details of Council’s paid-parking plans are available at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/2015/05/26/pay-parking-in-byron-town-centre-to-go-ahead.