Paying for a garage

Published 12:45 pm Wednesday, December 23, 2015

To build a 400-some-spot parking garage in the downtown Square it will cost the city about $10 million, which will produce about an $850,000 annual bond payment.

How to pay for such a structure and not raise taxes is one of many objectives the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission has been studying during its evaluation of whether or not Oxford is ready for a parking garage on its Square.

During a work session Friday, chairman Tom Sharpe presented several scenarios on how to raise enough funds annually to pay for a parking garage; however, the commission has not yet voted to recommend that the Oxford Board of Aldermen build a garage downtown.

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Before making that decision, the commission has been meeting twice a month to review data on parking trends, occupancy of free and paid parking spaces and possible means of revenue.

The scenarios were based on several assumptions including the location, which has not been officially selected by the commission. However, Sharpe based his scenarios on if the garage was built behind City Hall, which was the recommended site two years ago when the commission first started studying the need for a downtown parking garage and received a study from Structured Parking Solutions that looked at behind City Hall and behind the Oxford-University Club. The preferred spot was behind City Hall due to easier access for parkers to get in and out of the garage.

“That does not mean that is where this commission will recommend a garage to be built,” Sharpe said at the meeting. “I used this location since it had been previously studied.”

Several scenarios

The objectives of the scenarios, Sharpe said, are to manage parking, increase parking inventory to needed levels and to accomplish this without raising taxes.

Some of the possibilities to raise more revenue include raising the parking rate to $1.25 an hour, which could produce an additional $150,000 a year if parking hours remain the same. Another scenario showed extending the hours of paid parking to midnight. Currently, paid parking runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Saturday. If the rate remains the same at $1, it would produce an estimated $85,800 a year. If the rates were raised to $1.25, it could produce an additional $107,250 on top of the $150,000 taken in from the increased price.

If the garage was built behind City Hall, with 479 spaces, and a $2 a day charge to park, Sharpe estimated revenue from the garage to be $359,250 a year. One scenario included putting meters on the currently free lots at either $.50 or $.75 an hour which could bring in an additional $120,000-$177,660. However, the only remaining free parking would be the water tower parking lot.

If the garage was left free, then assuming more people would be parking at paid lots, the estimated revenue if the current free spaces were metered increased to about $140,000 if the cost was 50 cents an hour or $207,000 if 75 cents an hour.

In total, if the commission were to extend paid parking hours to midnight, charge $1.25 an hour, charged $2 a day for people to park in the garage and put meters on the current free lots and charged $.50 an hour for those spaces, except the water tower lot, the increase of revenue could be about $583,000. During the first year the meters were in place, revenue after expenses was about $450,000.

If and where

“So we have several scenarios here that show we could pay for a garage,” Sharpe said. “And without paying taxes. The people who park on the Square would be the ones to pay for it. We could build what we want where we want and be able to pay for it.”

The next step, Sharpe said, is for the commission to decide what the city needs, if it needs a parking garage and then, where to build it.

The commission will meet again in January.