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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Business owners react to parking enforcement cut

  • With Leavenworth city commissioners proposing to cut a downtown parking enforcement program, some store owners are expressing concern.
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  • With Leavenworth city commissioners proposing to cut a downtown parking enforcement program, some store owners are expressing concern.
    "I think it's a very big mistake," said Brendan Sheehan, owner of Santa Fe Trails Bicycle Shop in downtown Leavenworth.
    He said businesses rely on customers, and the city relies on sales tax revenue. He said the lack of parking enforcement downtown will strangle business.
    He likened the city's plan to eliminate the program that enforces time limits in many downtown parking areas to cutting off "your nose to spite your face."
    Commissioners are looking at cutting the parking enforcement program in the 2014 budget. This is one of several cuts that were identified in order to make up a budget shortfall without raising property taxes.
    The proposed 2014 budget has not yet been approved, but a majority of city commissioners have reached a consensus on publishing the budget with the proposed cuts.
    The budget likely will be approved Aug. 13 following a public hearing.
    The city budgeted $51,575 in expenses this year for downtown parking enforcement. It's estimated the program will bring in $6,950 in revenue this year. The city initially budgeted $52,870 in expenses for the program next year before it was targeted for a cut. The budgeted increase was due to anticipated increases in salary and benefits expenses.
    According to city Finance Director Dan Williamson, cutting the program from the 2014 budget will save $45,920. This factors in what was the anticipated revenue for the program.
    The city's parking enforcement officer works for the Leavenworth Police Department. Police Chief Pat Kitchens told city commissioners earlier this month that if the parking enforcement officer position is cut, patrol officers won't be able to take over those duties.
    "Regular police officers cannot and do not have time to do that," he told commissioners.
    Sheehan believes the parking enforcement program has been successful. He said the enforcement is not carried out in an arbitrary or capricious way.
    Sheehan acknowledged that he even has received tickets.
    Barb Spear, co-owner of The Book Barn, said downtown parking already is at a premium, and the problem will get worse if the enforcement program goes away.
    "I think we need someone to monitor it in some way," she said.
    She said many people will drive away without stopping at a business if they can't find a parking space.
    Spear's husband, Bob, is the co-owner of The Book Barn. He looked at the issue from an economic standpoint. He said the obvious question is whether the parking enforcement officer will generate money equal to or greater than her salary through the performance of her duties.
    Page 2 of 2 - He acknowledged that commissioners are looking for anything to cut, and he believes things may get worse economically in the United States.
    Jerry Stube, owner of Quilter's Quarters, looks at the cut of the program as a mixed bag. She feels parking restrictions are enforced inconsistently now. And she feels a three-hour time limit, which is currently used in much of the downtown area, is not long enough for some customers.
    "Our shoppers like to spend a lot of time," she said.
    And people coming to her business for classes may be there longer than three hours.
    But she feels having no enforcement will be disastrous.
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