Year into kiosk-based parking, and revenues don’t match projections

By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle
PITTSFIELD — Nearly a year into the city’s kiosk-based parking program, the new revenue stream is not meeting expectations.

The program raised $159,365 since its inception Jan. 3, while city officials estimated previously that it would generate about $400,000.

Finance Director Matt Kerwood said that estimate came from the previous administration, so he’s not sure how it was calculated. He said he suspects that it was “based on a bigger build-out,” meaning on a program with more kiosks in more places.

Kerwood said the first six months brought a period of transition, so it’s difficult to issue a revised estimate of the program’s annual revenue. The kiosks brought in $62,575 in the first six months, he said, and then $96,788 in the subsequent six. He said the increase can be attributed, in part, to the reopening of the public lot on First Street, and the fact that parking enforcement officers were lenient in the first months of the new system.

“We did, obviously, see an incline, then it kind of plateaued out,” he said.

He said that if current trends continue, he expects to raise $240,000 in total for the program’s first 18 months, a period that ends June 30.

The revenue is offset by ongoing maintenance costs for credit card processing fees, transaction fees, software costs and transport services amounting to $40,692 to date.

Upfront capital costs to purchase and deploy the kiosks totaled $347,500. The city is also poised to purchase a license plate recognition system to make parking enforcement more efficient, which comes at a one-time cost of $47,000.

The new revenue stream has begun to serve its intended purpose, in that $30,000 in repairs to the McKay Street garage were appropriated this year from the parking fund, rather than the general budget.

Figures on parking tickets, which were already issued before the new program began, seem to show an increase. The city collected $184,304 over the fiscal year that ended June 30, which included the first six months of the program. That’s up from $144,564 in the previous fiscal year.

Parking tickets feed the city’s general fund, whereas money collected from kiosks goes into a special revenue fund reserved for parking-related costs and maintenance.

“To me, parking tickets are a separate conversation,” Kerwood said.

Kerwood said he’s just now beginning to use the amounting data to develop benchmarks for subsequent years of the program, discounting the first months of implementation.

“The first couple months of revenue reflected that period of adjustment,” he said.

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