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Parking Services Operations Deficit Leads to Mobile Transaction Fees

On-street parking mobile app payments will include convenience fee.

Kirstin Davis, (509) 625-7773

Friday, October 28, 2022 at 3:43 p.m.

City of Spokane Parking Services has accumulated $3.9 million in revenue losses because of COVID response and recovery since 2020. Beginning, Tuesday, Nov. 1, the City will pass on the transaction fees to on-street parking customers who use the mobile app for payment. On-street paid parking customers who use the ParkMobile mobile app will be charged a 35-cent transaction fee per parking session. Credit and debit card payments at new devices and coin payment at old and new devices will not include transaction fees.

The Parking Services department is self-funded and is not covered by tax-payer dollars. On-street, commercial permits, reservations, residential and violation revenues fund parking department equipment, staff and operations. This includes hardware, technology infrastructure, system management, enforcement, and neighborhood parking complaint response. Policy decisions contributing to the revenue loss include suspending on-street paid parking between March and May 2020 and replacing approximately 74 paid stalls with free ten-minute parking to accommodate curbside services in response to the impacts of COVID.

“Parking services has encountered the perfect storm with the impacts from the pandemic and annual debt service,” says Steve MacDonald, Community & Economic Development Director. “We have had to dig deep to find solutions and are passing through mobile app transaction fees as most other cities do. We will consider other revenue options as we continue to make up for the deficit.”

What does this mean for parking customers?

Each mobile app payment session at an on-street meter will include a 35-cent transaction charge in addition to the hourly parking rate. For example, if a customer parks at two-hour meter for one hour and pays with the mobile app they will pay $1.20 + 35 cents for a total of $1.55 for the one-hour session. However, if the customer extends the time at that meter within the time limit through the mobile app, an additional transaction fee will not be charged. Credit or debit card and coin forms of payment do not require a transaction fee, therefore will not be passed on to customers.

Device / Form of Payment Time Limit Accepted? Transaction Fee?
New / Coin 2 hrs / 4 hrs / All Day Yes No
New / Credit or Debit Card 2 hrs / 4 hrs / All Day Yes No
New / ParkMobile App 2 hrs / 4 hrs / All Day Yes Yes
Old / Coin 2 hrs / 4 hrs / All Day Yes No
Old / Credit or Debit Card 2 hrs / 4 hrs / All Day No No
Old / ParkMobile App 2 hrs / 4 hrs / All Day Yes Yes

Spokane on-street paid parking customers adopted payment through mobile apps at a much quicker rate than most cities across the country. Transaction fees accompany mobile app parking sessions. It is common and an industry standard for transaction fees, which is considered a convenience to be paid by the user. This strategy provides a level of equity throughout the parking system by having more of the revenue directed to improvements within the downtown core, and not to absorb user convenience fees. The City of Spokane, in passing along the transaction fee, is eligible for a revenue sharing opportunity for Parking Services to invest 10 cents of each transaction fee toward department expenses. This is projected to result in a $252,000 positive impact for the operations budget in future years to help make up for the deficit.