Manchester aldermen could vote tonight to expand the portion of the center city where on-street parking meters or kiosks run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and cost 75 cents per hour. They also could increase monthly parking rates for city garages and parking lots. Given the city’s financial situation and the high value of parking in the center city, the changes make sense.
It is very cheap to park on public property in Manchester. The city charges 50-75 cents an hour for metered spaces. By contrast, Portsmouth charges twice that — $1-1.50 an hour — and Nashua charges 50 cents to $1 an hour. Monthly parking fees in Manchester also are low. A city review of other cities in the region found that only Nashua’s fees are lower. Portsmouth charges $100 a month for a covered garage. Manchester charges $75 for the Victory Garage and only $45 for Millyard parking, $50 for other surface lots. Those fees would rise by $10 a month.
By charging well below market value for a scarce resource, the city cheats itself out of revenue, which increases the pressure for a tax increase. As for the resident parking fees, the city should not go from zero to $100, especially considering that so many low-income families live downtown. A much smaller fee would be the way to go.