Amarillo city officials are considering reinstituting parking meters downtown.

During the work session portion of Tuesday’s regular meeting, city council members received a downtown parking management presentation from Economic Development Manager Andrew Freeman.

Within the course of the nearly hour long discussion, Freeman referenced a 2013 study that focused on Amarillo’s downtown parking situation, noting specific goals of downtown parking management include providing parking to support downtown businesses, as well as civic and cultural institutions; have both long term and short term parking; increase turnover of short term parking; and encourage more public shared use of off-street parking spaces.

Freeman said other cities such as McAllen, Texas, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Denver, Colorado, have paid parking ranges from $.50 to $2 per hour, with an average of $1 to $1.50. He said the original 2013 study recommended a footprint initially for the zone surrounding a three block radius of the parking garage and downtown hotel as a trial installation.

“We would hope to have it implemented and ready to go by the end of the year,” Freeman said, noting the firm ParkMobile would assist in initiating the endeavor. “This would be after all of the big Civic Center events. It would give us a chance to get in installed and have a trial run and let people know the system works while not issuing tickets until people are familiar with the system.”

One of the questions Freeman received from the council was the impact such a consideration would have on the city-owned parking garage.

“It should help the parking garage,” he said. “Right now folks are parking on the streets. Even hotel users are parking on the street versus paying the $7 a day (for the garage). If it’s free, they will park up and down Buchanan rather than use the garage.”

City officials said the parking garage debt service of $425,000 fully comes on board during the 2023-24 fiscal year while during fiscal year 20-21, 25 percent of that amount is slated to begin being paid.

Officials said if the city does not collect enough parking garage revenue to begin addressing the facility’s debt service in 2023-24, the payments would be paid via another source.

“We anticipate allocating $2.5 million of the HOT (Hotel Occupancy Tax) tax dollars to fund debt service if we don’t have the full $425,000 from the parking garage,” Assistant City Manager Michelle Bonner said.

Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council Executive Director Dan Quandt said he agrees with implementing the paid parking initiative by the end of the year.

“Use that time from roughly January to April as the warm up time,” he said. “You don’t want to break in a system when you open the MPEV. We’ll handle whatever you throw at us. It’s something that has to be done and I don’t see a way not to do a paid system downtown.”

Council member Elaine Hays agreed with Quandt.

“I am comfortable looking at January implementation,” Hays said. “That gives us three to four months of kind of getting used to it. I lean more toward the 45 block radius rather than 90. The sense of an initial rollout and having the supply and demand a little closer is best.”