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Charleston council aims to modernize parking, considers ‘smart’ meters

Gazette-Mail file photo

City Council approved budgets for the Charleston Civic Center and the parking system Monday.

The parking system budget was approved after city employees presented an overview presentation of a parking study completed in the fall.

As part of the study, the city will consider establishing new smart parking meters that would allow the city to monitor how many cars are parked in spaces and how long cars have been at expired meters, and allow the city to potentially use a supply-and-demand system to drive parking rates.

Customers can also use credit cards or pay using a mobile app with the meters. Each meter is expected to cost between $800 and $900.

The new budget also establishes public parking on the first floor of parking garages and new signs.

The budget also changes two job descriptions within parking services. Custodians and cashiers now will be “parking technicians,” and they will be cross-trained for both positions.

The Civic Center budget has few changes, except revenues from two garages on Quarrier Street now will go to the center’s revenues. As rents are down due to construction, City Manager David Molgaard said it made sense to move the responsibility to the Civic Center.

City council also approved an extension term to a 2016 agreement with WasteZero for $410,000 for city trash bags. Council members Shannon Snodgrass and Courtney Persinger voted against the extension, saying changes needed to be made to city’s current system.

Snodgrass said she’s concerned the city is paying too much for the garbage bags, and should consider only paying for the bags people pick up. Persinger recommended the city consider using wheeled trash cans and start gradually phasing them into neighborhoods as new garbage trucks are purchased. He said buying the cans would be cheaper than the trash bag program in the long run.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones called Persinger’s idea “idealistic,” and said it would not work in the long run.

Council also voted to:

n Authorize a change order for $92,650.83 to BBL Carlton, LLC, for the Civic Center expansion project. The change order will pay for metal panels for a marquee sign and for reinforced roofing at the center’s administrative offices.

n Authorize the city manager to enter into a renewal of excess workers’ compensation insurance with Safety National. The city will pay at a rate of about 0.63 percent of wages, or a deposit premium of $223,175.

n Authorize the city manager to enter into an agreement with CIS and BRIT Insurance for excess employee’s liability insurance. The change will take effect July 1.

n Authorize a lease agreement with the Lucy Quarrier Weavers for Vandalia Neighborhood Center. The lease is for six months, starting next month. It awaits final approval from the city attorney’s office. If approved, it would be the first time the center has been used in several years.

n Approve a resolution granting American Electric Power a permanent easement across and under tennis courts at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. AEP will pay $65,490 for the value of the easements, and pay for the restoration of the tennis courts after construction is completed.

n Authorize the mayor to enter into a housing consortium cooperation agreement with several governmental bodies as part of the Charleston/Kanawha County Housing Consortium. The agreement will continue through the 2020 fiscal year.

Reach Ali Schmitz at

ali.schmitz@wvgazettemail.com,

304-348-4843 or follow

@SchmitzMedia on Twitter.

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