by: Scott Wickersham Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9 investigates Charlotte's half-million-dollar plan to change the way you pay for parking in uptown.
Eyewitness News uncovered the expensive change comes at a time when parking revenues are plummeting.
The city tested "smart" meters last year in part of uptown which allows drivers to pay with credit cards.
Charlotte wants to replace nearly 900 meters with the new technology.
Anchor Scott Wickersham found the move could further reduce the city’s already lagging parking revenue.
The revenue numbers for meters and citations has dropped almost 25 percent over the past six years.
Charlotte Department of Transportation officials blame it on the recession and more people using public transportation.
The move to smart meters could reduce revenue even further.
The city tested the smart meters on Brevard Street.
CDOT spokeswoman Doreen Szymanski said the city plans to replace the 860 meters in uptown at a cost to taxpayers of $430,000.
The timing is less than ideal as the city deals with declining revenue from parking.
In 2007, the city made just $750,000 on meter collections. By last year, it had dropped $540,000.
CDOT said in 2007 parking fines brought in more than a million dollars. Last year, they made just $778,000.
Adding to the loss, each credit card transaction fee on the new smart meters could cost the city as much as 20 cents.
Szymanski said it's a reality parking officials have to deal with.
“As long as we still cover the cost of the program,” Szymanski said. “It’s about short-term convenient parking for our visitor.”
Park It, the company that enforces parking in uptown, also takes a cut from taxpayers bottom line.
It gets 10 percent of meter revenue and 3 percent of money collected for parking tickets.