Proposal would extend DC parking meter hours, increase fines

A $13 billion budget for the District was approved Wednesday. It is the largest budget D.C. has ever considered.

The money will be used to build affordable housing, homeless shelters and to purchase police body cameras.

No matter where you live, the word "tax" is a bad word. Mayor Muriel Bowser wanted to raise the sales tax to make up for the budget shortfall this year, but the council rejected the mayor's plan.

Instead, the council has found another way to pay for it, and if you have a vehicle and park in the District, you may be forced to pay more soon.

"Motorists are already over-ticketed in the city anyways," said John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Many would agree with him, but one thing no one can deny is that parking tickets help fund the District government.

Soon, a meter violation could go from $25 to 30. In busy spots, parking enforcement would shift from ending at 10 p.m. to ending at midnight.

"I just think it's not smart business when you want to have a city that relies mostly on tourism," said David Perruzza.

He manages JR's Bar and Grill on 17th Street in Northwest D.C. He believes higher fines and longer enforcement hours may hurt business and even anger nearby residents.

"Mostly it will affect the restaurants and it also affects the neighborhoods because when people have to pay more for parking or later, they end up parking in the neighborhoods that are residential zones, so the neighbors can't find parking when they get home from work," said Perruzza.

Mayor Bowser does not like the parking plan.

"I also don't believe in hidden fines and fees," she said.

Bowser wanted an across-the-board sales tax increase that she said would be in line with Virginia and Maryland, but the D.C. council said no.

"The thing about the sales tax is we have a growing number of visitors, workers and people who come to the District of Columbia where we can spread the base and not concentrate any increases on D.C. residents," said Bowser.

It is hard to know exactly how much these new parking rules will generate. Millions of dollars are a good bet. But some say the city is already getting enough.

Councilmember Jack Evans, who has always been a budget hawk, said on Wednesday that the council approved these measures, but he wants to see results. He said with a $12.9 billion budget the council approved, "we should be able to solve all the problems in the city."

The mayor still has to sign off on this. If she does, the parking ticket increase is expected to take effect in 2016.

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