GREAT FALLS — If you’ve driven to downtown Great Falls lately, you may have noticed your parking fare doesn’t buy you as much time as it used to.
It’s been two weeks since parking fees in downtown Great Falls doubled from 50 cents to $1 an hour.
But what are those additional funds used for?
Director of Planning and Community Development Craig Raymond says those fees and fines go toward $900,000 worth of parking improvements to benefit the downtown community.
Parking fees and fines are the primary source of revenue for improvements and standard maintenance efforts since the parking program doesn’t receive any subsidies.
The city originally tried to fund maintenance on the parking program by cutting costs — but came up short.
“Certainly nobody in the Parking Advisory Commission or the City Commission or the city staff is really excited about the idea of having to raise rates. That’s never a popular thing. But the benefit is the facilities themselves will be more user-friendly, safer, more efficient, and just a better-run operation, which we think will improve the system overall and help support the downtown economy,” Raymond said.
The parking improvements are geared toward making parking downtown safe and easier to maneuver. These include replacing lighting systems in parking garages, installing modern surveillance systems to ensure safety and exchanging the nonfunctional self-parking system with a fully functional, more efficient system.
Changes to the parking program are currently underway, with the replacement of lighting systems already complete and updates like new surveillance systems in the works.
-Reported by Lindsie Hiatt/MTN News