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Wilmington City Council resuscitates free deck parking, sort of

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City of Wilmington
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WHQR

Tuesday, Wilmington City Council gave the required second reading for the budget for next year — and hammered out something of a compromise on the issue of free parking.

At the beginning of budget discussion, Luke Waddell prefaced his vote. He said increasing taxes on the citizens while also taking a 25% pay increase, didn’t seem fair to him, and that’s why he voted against the budget.

Kevin Spears then made a motion to discuss charging for the first hour of parking at the two parking decks. Currently, the first hour and a half is free. The FY2022-2023 budget proposes charging $1.50 for that hour and a half.

There was some confusion amongst council members about what the city would be “losing” by offering the first 30 minutes for free. Spears said the city wouldn’t be “losing” anything, since the first hour and a half is free already. Rather, it’s an issue of the city generating less revenue in the coming year.

Annually, the city would be making $120,000 less by giving the first 30 minutes for free at both parking decks compared to having no free parking.

Luke Waddell agreed, saying this was a very reasonable ask and easy to implement.

Mayor Pro-tem Margaret Hayes argued against it, saying people who use the parking deck should be the ones paying for their construction, not the taxpayers. Clifford Barnett agreed.

Spears put the argument in favor of the amendment succinctly, calling the compromise an “olive branch.”

“What have we actually heard from the citizens? … If I’m only going to be there for 15 minutes I pull in and pull out and I’m out of there," he said.

The motion to amend the ordinance to give the first 30 minutes for free passed 4-3, with Margaret Haynes, Mayor Bill Saffo, and Clifford Barnett voting against it.