I wish I could be kinder about the idea to increase parking meter rates in Bellevue, but it's such a horrendously bad idea that I really can't. It's a dumb idea just about any way you look at it.
This truly crappy idea appears to be part of an effort to make up some of the money Bellevue will have to spend to get the COPS grant. My understanding of the deal the police department struck with Bellevue Council is that the department will cut costs and or increase revenue. Somewhere along the line, the police department got the weird idea that meter money belonged to them. It doesn't. It goes into the general fund where it can be spent on any number of things, most of which are personnel-related these days.
The next thing you know, they're going to be grabbing the pool pass money because police officers patrol the area.
No, the cuts and revenue generation need to come from within the actual police department, which means that those handsomely paid police officers can take a few less vacation days and pay something towards the cost of their health care. They can, as one resident suggested, start writing tickets to people who litter along Lincoln Avenue, and to those who speed through the crosswalks.
Those are things that actually will have a positive impact on the business district and the borough, as opposed to the really dumb idea of increasing parking meter rates.
"It's only a quarter" makes sense only when it's a statement true of someone who pops into Bellevue for a very short period of time. However, quite a few of Bellevue's parking meters are used by business owners themselves, and their employees. It now costs $40 a month to buy a permit to park daily in one of Bellevue's municipal lots. That's pretty much what you'd pay if you fed the meter for 40 hours every week.
Increasing the meter rates to 50 cents per hour doubles the cost to business people who need to park on a long-term basis. Speaking as one of those business owners, $80 a month for parking in Bellevue is a price that would make me think twice about where my office is located. That's nearly $500 a year more for parking.
Then we add insult to injury -- as Bellevue is so often prone to do. A substantial number of borough employees do not live in Bellevue, which means that their annual contribution to the borough's tax coffers is $52. Yet every single one of them gets free parking from the borough. They will not be paying nearly $1,000 a year just for the pleasure of working in Bellevue.
Perhaps a whole lot of other people won't be paying it either, because their businesses will move to a community that actually welcomes them.