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Downtown parking fee a real possibility

Downtown Bremerton residents may have to pay $1 a month to park in front of their homes after all.

The Bremerton City Council voted to pass an ordinance requiring residents to pay $12 a year for a parking permit at the Dec. 11 council meeting.

There will be a second reading on the issue on Dec. 18.

The ordinance, if passed, will only affect those residents whose street has a time limit for parking, and will allow them to purchase permits for up to four cars and two free visitor passes.

A number of residents in attendance brought up the issue of parking enforcement. Some were worried they would pay for parking and then the spots near their homes would be taken by people without permits.

Bremerton resident John Thomas said it has taken Diamond Parking, which maintains a parking contract with the City, up to 48 hours to respond to his calls when there is someone illegally parked in his neighborhood.

“You blew it on this one,” Thomas told the Council.

Administrative Services Director Kathleen McCluskey said the city plans to rework the hours Diamond Parking is paid to patrol Bremerton streets in order to increase enforcement. She said Bremerton is not planning to increase the amount Diamond is paid.

“People should not have to pay to park in their own neighborhoods on their own streets,” Council Member Ed Rollman said. “I ask the Council not to do this because it sets a bad precedent for future Councils.”

Rollman said he felt the resolution would stop people from moving to Bremerton.

“What’s the idea of doing revitalization and then chasing people away?” asked Rollman.

According to Rollman, his district, No. 4 — which consists of the downtown area — has more parking violations than any other and instead of permitting fees he would like to see some of the most congested streets, such as State Street, turned into residential parking only.

Roger Lubovich, city attorney, said that might be illegal since they are public streets.

The vote to pass the ordinance on its second reading was 7-2 with Council members Rollman and Mike Shepherd voting no.

Before the council passed the resolution, they voted to approve the 2003 budget, which included funds from the parking permit project. The budget also included monies from other resolutions that were on their first reading, such as a business and occupation tax ordinance and a resolution that would raise commercial parking tax rates from 6 to 8 percent. All were passed.

During the discussion before the 2003 budget vote, Rollman motioned to amend the budget so the cost of the residential parking permit program came from parking fines instead of permit fees.

Cecil McConnell said he disagreed with the idea because fines shouldn’t be used as general revenue.

“I think there’s a solution out there for the parking permit thing, but I don’t think this is it,” McConnell said.

Rollman’s amendment failed 7-2 with Rollman and Shepherd voting yes. The vote to approve the budget was passed 7-2 with Rollman and Shepherd voting no.

During the council meeting Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman apologized for last week’s outburst saying it was “uncalled for and unprofessional.”

Bozeman reacted emotionally after the city council eliminated a project manager position from a public safety bond ordinance.

Bozeman said he has been worried the city won’t have enough money to pay its employees because of all the major projects coming up.

“We’re in a history-making time in Bremerton and we can’t let down 40,000 citizens,” Bozeman said.

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