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Oxford’s parking commission reviews 3 revenue plans for garage

The Oxford Board of Aldermen tasked the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission last month with coming up with a plan that would allow for about 250 parking spaces to remain free while still being able to generate enough revenue to pay for the future downtown parking garage without having to raise taxes.

However, the commission came up with three plans, which they reviewed Friday during a work session meeting.

Each plan has enough projected revenue to pay for the annual bond payment, that would be about $800,000 annually for 30 years; however, only two of the three plans provides for close to 250 free parking spaces.

Originally, the commission had devised a funding plan that has the charge to park in the garage at $2 a day.

“That requires putting in a gate, and those can be very problematic,” said Commission Chair Tom Sharpe.

The first plan, dubbed the First Scenario, offers 248 free parking spaces — the parking lot under the water tower near the Oxford Park Commission office and the lot behind City Hall. The charge to park in the parking garage is reduced to 50 cents an hour and the charge to park in all other parking lots is 75 cents an hour. Those lots including the lot east of Simply Southern and the one behind City Grocery. Projected garage revenue at the 50 cents an hour is $151,000 annually, with a total projected revenue of $982,000 annually that includes all parking meter revenue. The price to park in the currently metered parking spaces is $1.25 around the Square.

Alternate 1 has the same pricing as the first scenario; however, the free parking would be at the water tower lot and the 92 parking spaces that would be located around the parking garage, which will be located off Jefferson Avenue, behind the Oxford-University Club.

“With the first scenario, if the free lots are full, people have to drive around the Square to get to the garage,” Sharpe said. “Keeping the spaces around the garage free is more convenient for them to go to the next cheapest option.”

With 11 less free parking spaces than the first plan, the proposed garage revenue for Alt 1 is $171,000 a year and a total revenue of $1,002,000 annually.

Alternate II only offers the 131 free parking spaces at the water tower lot, but reduces the charge of the parking garage to 25 cents an hour, resulting in a projected $168,000 in garage revenue and a total of $999,000 revenue annually.

“Any of these plans will generate enough to pay for the garage,” said Commissioner Mike Harris.

The commissioners ranked the three options in order of preference. The majority of the commission preferred Alt 1, with the First Scenario ranking second, and Alt II ranking third.

The commission will present all three options to the aldermen for their consideration during an upcoming board meeting.

Construction on the parking garage is expected to begin in January.