Folks visiting downtown Lewes or the beach can expect to pay a little more for parking this summer.
Although meter rates are not changing, mayor and city council voted to extend metered hours to 8 p.m. and add a 50-cent convenience charge to all credit card transactions at meters. The 50-cent charge will not apply to Park Mobile, which already charges a 50-cent convenience charge.
Beginning May 1, daily meter hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at downtown meters and lots and at the city’s two beach parking lots, previously to 6 p.m. The two additional hours are expected to generate $145,000 more.
The convenience charge became an option after the city replaced all single-head meters in the downtown area. The new meters add a credit cards feature.
With that option now available, city staff expects to see an estimated $20,000 bump in total fees paid for credit card transactions.
Parking meters run from May 1 to Sept. 30 at the beach and to Oct. 14 in the downtown area. It is $2 per hour at the beach and $1 per hour downtown, not including a convenience fee for credit cards.
Also changing in the upcoming season is the parking fine structure. Parking meter fines will increase from $20 to $30, with seven days to pay before the fine increases. Other similar parking-related fines were also increased to $30.
If a ParkMobile user selects the wrong vehicle and receives a citation or inputs their license plate incorrectly, they must now pay a $10 administrative fee to have the ticket dismissed. City Manager Ann Marie Townshend said the city is getting a lot of requests to dismiss due to user error on the ParkMobile app.
All changes came out of seven budget meetings held over the last month. Mayor and city council approved the fiscal year 2020 budget March 18.
After initially considering property tax increases, none were included in the budget. The last time property taxes were increased was 2011.
The general contractors business license fees will increase 20 percent this year, with an expected increase a revenue of about $23,000.
On the expenditure side, council voted to increase the annual donation to the fire department from $30,000 to $50,000. On Feb. 21, fire department officials asked city officials to consider an increased donation to keep up with growing needs of the expanding area.
Council budgeted salary increases of 2.5 percent to non-union, full-time and part-time employee salaries. Seasonal employee hourly rates were also increased 2.5 percent.
A 5 percent increase in healthcare premiums was included in the budget, but the actual number will be unknown until state officials complete their budget, which begins July 1. In a change, all employees hired after April 1 will be required to pay 20 percent of the monthly premium for the health insurance plan they select.
Officials approved the hiring of two new employees – a second full-time planner and a second administrative assistant. The combined cost, including salary and benefits, is about $120,000.
Planned capital projects include repaving of Beebe and Dewey avenues and the Beach 1 parking lot. Townshend says the Beach 1 project should begin soon and is anticipated to be completed by May 1. Also planned are the city’s portion – $120,000 – of a $600,000 project to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians on Savannah Road, from the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to American Legion Road.