Fred Chang opposes electronic parking meter

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Port Orchard’s city council decided to replace the old cash-only parking box that currently sits near Port Orchard’s waterfront with a solar powered “Parkeon pay and display system.”

“Over the years, we have had numerous complaints about the box of people paying and still getting a ticket,” wrote Port Orchard’s Police Chief Alan Townsend in an e-mail. “To combat this, we have been suggesting for years that we automate the process, so there is a clear method for tracking the payment.”

The new system, officially approved with the budget on Dec. 14, will cost $20,000 plus installation costs and ongoing use fees.

“Basically, you’re talking about a $540 annual fee per unit,” said Townsend at a city council meeting on Oct. 26. “So they can get the data off the machines from remote location.”

“And then there’ll be the credit card processing and service fee which is a cost we pay for each transaction. That’s about $4,000 per year.”

The city will work with Seattle-based DGM Controls, the only company to bid on the project, to install and maintain the pay systems. The company claims 15 years of experience of working with Parkeon.

Kitsap County has worked with the company on several projects, and they’re happy with the results, said Jim Stoll, head maintenance supervisor for Kitsap County Buildings.

“They’re fast, efficient and they do a good job,” he said. “I deal with them fairly regularly over the security system, and I’ve never had a problem with them.”

Customer service sets the company apart from other security companies, he added.

“I never have to wait,” he said. “When I call, if they don’t answer my question right away, they’re back to me within minutes, and they are very personable in their response.”

The Seattle Center has a less-rosy experience with their old Parkeon Pay and Display systems, said Richard Pedowitz the transportation services manager at the Seattle Center.

“They’re not as reliable as we would like,” said Pedowitz.

However, he added, they’re different than the style of Parkeon pay and display systems Port Orchard will use, so it may be unfair to compare them.

Fred Chang opposed the pay and display systems at several city council meetings.

He said that the city’s $20,000 allocation towards them in the 2010 budget presented a major obstacle for his vote of approval of the city’s 2011 budget.

“The solar powered parking meters I think are really neat,” he said at the Dec. 14 city council meeting. “But I don’t think we’ve spoken about them costing the city $20,000. I cannot in good conscience vote for something that will benefit so few in the upcoming year.”

“I don’t think that $20,000 for solar-powered parking meters is appropriate.”

Chang also voted and spoke against the pay stations at a city council meeting on Oct. 26.

The two new, solar-powered pay and display system is scheduled be installed by January.