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Council undecided if Jerome residents should pay to park

Jerome Town Council members discuss paid parking options for the town during Tuesday’s meeting. VVN Vyto Starinskas

Jerome Town Council members discuss paid parking options for the town during Tuesday’s meeting. VVN Vyto Starinskas

JEROME — The Jerome Town Council could not decide if local residents should have to pay when parking at the six kiosks that will be installed in certain parking areas in the community.

At a Council meeting Tuesday night, members were aiming to put the kiosk issue to bed by passing ordinances and resolutions that would set fees, penalties and exemptions, but got hung up on the resident issue after hours of discussion.

And the meter is running out on the council since the kiosks are scheduled to be delivered and installed in October.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council scheduled another special meeting for the parking kiosks issue on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 8:30 a.m. to figure out the last paid-parking detail: Should Jerome residents pay for parking at kiosks and how much?

The council has been working for months to finalize ordinances and resolutions that would set up six parking kiosks in town to raise money for public safety and infrastructure improvements.

The council did vote on an ordinance Tuesday setting the cost to park at $3 for up to four hours or $5 to park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The rest of the time it’s free.

The council also voted Tuesday to change the parking-fee time from the original 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. time-span to the new hours because it works better with restaurant and hotel workers’ shifts. However, the signs will have to be changed on the kiosks and Town Manager Candace Gallagher didn’t know if that would delay the shipment of the kiosks.

The council also approved the penalties for tickets: $25 for the first ticket and $50 for the second ticket within a year. “If payment is received within 24 hours of the notice of violation, the fine amount will be 50% of the fine amount listed on the notice of violation,” states the ordinance.”

Even though they tabled the exemption vote for residents, the council unanimously agreed to exempt handicap drivers from any fees at any of the paid parking spaces in town. They also exempted first responders in private vehicles on official town business and guests of overnight hotels rooms.

Council did not allow exemptions for business owners and employees, expressing that more than half of the parking spaces in town are free, including the “300 Level” parking lot above the fire station, and they could find free parking spaces.

However, when it came to residents, the council was not sure if they should charge them, give them a discount or sell them a pass by the month or the year.

Residents who live in Jerome are already paying property taxes or a rental tax “so I don’t’ necessarily think it would be appropriate to charge full-price,” said Council Member Mandy Worth.

Then the question would be how to exempt residents, Worth said. Would exemptions go with a residential unit, with the adult, with the vehicle or another method?

Councilman Jack  Dillenberg reiterated, as well defended, the importance of the kiosks to the town while speaking to the chambers full of people interested in the parking issue.

Dillenberg said the parking fees should raise “six figures” and allow the town to fix infrastructure problems in a way that is fair and equitable and “not on the backs of Jeromeans.” He said they are exploring other ways that visitors can help support Jerome.

“It’s not going to turn Jerome into Sedona,” Dillenberg told them. “It’s not going to change us into Flagstaff.”

The No. 1 goal is improving the infrastructure of Jerome, he said.

“We have a right to do this,” explained Mayor Alex Barber. “Someone needs to stand up for the town before it falls apart. And I’ve lived here my whole life, you cannot tell me I don’t love this town.”

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