We’re a year into higher parking fines with a basic overtime fee now $25. The rationale was to increase funds for the city. Meanwhile, sales tax receipts have been dubbed “lukewarm.” Is there any connection? How do parking revenues for 2017 compare to past years? How does sales tax receipts compare? Sign me, Just Curious
Some folks believe parking tickets and tax revenues are inseparable. Not so.
Parking tickets and tax receipts have almost zero to do with each other. Please underline this and repeat this fact aloud.
Not that facts matter these days.
The insistence on alternative facts means we can’t even agree about the basis on which to disagree. Sigh.
City sales tax collections have plateaued in the past couple of years. Since 2011, when $12 million was collected, receipts increased north of 5 percent annually until 2015.
They rose 2.7 percent from 2015 to 2016, then an anemic 1.7 percent from 2016 to last year. This year, collection of sales tax is expected to be a flat $16 million.
For the historic monthly tax picture, visit https://tinyurl.com/TAX-DGO.
Keep in mind that downtown and north Main account for 40 to 45 percent of sales tax receipts. Yet downtown streets are the only places with parking meters.
Then there’s the issue of parking fines. They’ve been hiked significantly over the years. The tax rate, meanwhile, has remained the same.
So even if there were a correlation, which there’s not, comparing dollar totals is pretty much meaningless.
But we all know that meaningless data has never prevented Action Line from reporting the facts.
In 2013, the city took in $358,469 from parking tickets.
In 2016, the city netted $534,620. The estimate for 2017 is $670,000 with $700,000 forecast for 2018.
OK, so if you still think more expensive parking tickets reduces sales tax, what about the opposite? Business would surge when there’s lots of free parking.
By that logic, the Durango Mall should be a bustling mega-retail mecca.
Um, not so much.
What about free parking downtown? That would really boost sales tax, right?
Yah-no. Durango tried free parking for a couple of weeks in 2013 when new parking meters were installed.
What happened was no surprise.
Merchants and employees took up virtually every available on-street parking space.
“Customers were forced to find parking elsewhere and walk further to get to desired business locations, facing a significant inconvenience,” notes the city’s Multimodal Transportation Plan.
Then there’s this thing called the internet.
According to 2018 budget documents, online sales are “taking a bite out of the city’s revenue stream.”
The report also cites recent closures of several old, traditional shops.
“Some of those locations remain vacant; others are now occupied by real estate offices and financial institutions, not sales tax generating enterprises,” reads the budget analysis.
And to close out on a curt curmudgeonly cudgel, Action Line will tell you flat out that downtown has a lot of parking. Seriously.
There are 1,039 parking meters downtown and four municipal lots.
The city’s Parking Division has conducted parking analyses twice each week from 2012 to now to determine available parking citywide.
“Vacancy rates vary from 40 to 80 percent occupancy in the CBD (Central Business District) during operational hours. This infers that Durango does not have a parking availability problem in the CBD during the week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
To quote Durango’s Sandra Lee, who came up with this observation: “Durango doesn’t have a parking problem – it has a walking problem.”
It also has a quarter problem. For 25 cents, you can prevent a ticket costing 100 times more.
And that’s just common cents, something that Durango can’t count on.
Email questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if your parking space is a free bike rack or Trolley Pass.