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Keep Lid On Parking Rates

Beginning Jan. 1, people who work in Wheeling will have to pay a $2 per week “service fee” to the city. Those among them who have to park their vehicles in city-owned garages and lots should not be hit again in the pocketbook through higher rates.

City officials have not renewed an agreement with the Anthony Wayne Oil Corp. to manage the three big parking garages and six lots in the downtown business district. Now, keeping the facilities in operation is up to municipal officials and employees.

That change may make sense, especially given options presented by advancing technology. City Manager Robert Herron told our reporter the possibility of automating parking garages and lots is being considered.

Also on the table are improvements to the garages and lots. Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday has suggested better lighting and augmented safety procedures and equipment ought to be considered.

Part of the process of planning the facilities’ future will be “looking at current rates” charged for parking, Herron said this week.

An analysis of rates charged in other cities, including Pittsburgh and Charleston, has been conducted. That will lead to “recommendations on changing the fee schedule,” Herron added.

Nothing — especially the cost of government — ever seems to go down in price. So, do not be surprised if you read that council plans to make it more expensive to park at city garages and lots.

Costs to maintain the facilities have gone up, too, of course. So it may be that some rate increase is needed to guard against major problems such as those at the Center Wheeling garage.

But any increases should be limited to those needed to maintain existing garages and lots. They should not be used to raise money for one of Mayor Glenn Elliott’s pet projects, construction of a new garage to serve the old Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel building. A developer has said he may renovate that structure for residential use. It will be recalled that, at least at one point, it was suggested the new $11 million garage could be paid for out of revenue from it and other city-owned parking facilities.

A big parking rate increase for that purpose would not — and should not — go down well with those who must use city-owned garages and lots.

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