Even though University of Mississippi students didn’t arrive in Oxford until the second week of August, parking meters took in a record amount of revenue for the month.
According to Parking Director Matt Davis, $78,793 was collected from the downtown parking meters around the Square. “It’s been our overall highest month,” he said. The most funds were collected during the week of Aug. 20, with $20,475 in meter collections.
Ole Miss students started school Aug. 21. Year-to-date, the meters have collected about $700,000.
“By the end of the fiscal year, I suspect we will surpass the projected $800,000,” he said.
The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
August also set a record for the number of tickets being collected with 1,248 tickets issued. More than 8,200 tickets have been written by parking officers since Oct. 1 and are mostly overtime parking violations.
The rise in collections is largely due to the increase of hours the meters are on and the amount being charged to park. Earlier this year, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved a recommendation from the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission to raise the rate from $1 an hour to $1.25 an hour and expand the hours of paid parking from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday.
Currently, the Parking Department has $1.3 million in cash on hand.
Revenues from the paid parking are slated to go toward a new downtown parking garage that is proposed to be built in the city parking lot behind the Oxford-University Club.
Commissioner Tom Sharpe told the commission Friday that they would soon need to decide if they will be making the outer parking lots, that are currently free parking, paid parking; however, in earlier meeting when the commission reviewed funding models for the garage, the price for parking in the outer lots would be cheaper than around the Square in the premium lots – possible 50 to 75 cents an hour. The water tower parking lot would remain free.
However, no final decision had been made to recommend those changes to the Board of Aldermen.
The price to park in the garage has also not yet been finalized as commissioners continue to review whether to make the price to park in the garage an hourly charge, with options to purchase monthly passes and leaving the top floor of the garage free parking.
Previously, some aldermen expressed that they would want to see free parking options still available.
Last month, the commission reviewed preliminary designs for the garage and selected a design that was 50-feet shorter than the other that would provide 410 parking spaces inside the garage with about 81 surface parking spaces.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill, Alderman Rick Addy, Parking Commission chair Tom Sharpe met with the architects from the Eley Guild Hardy architect firm and city engineers to review the design the commission selected to see if more aesthetics can be added to the design to make it more attractive.
My desire is to make it an exceptional garage,” she said, “not just a brick box. I’ve been studying other garages in different areas and I’ve pulled different ideas of things we can do to make it more aesthetically pleasing and making it more attractive for our residents. I want it to be the best it can be and if that costs us a few additional month, that’s OK. We’ll have something we can all be proud of.”
The commission agreed to schedule a special meeting once the architects make the changes to the designs to review the changes.