The city of Athens lost over $300,000 in parking revenue during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, largely due to social distancing policies from the city.
Among revenue made from the street parking meters and parking garage, the city of Athens lost a combined total of $315,806.31 in parking fee revenue between March and August of this year.
Last year, between March and August, street parking meters brought in $1,154,280.92. The parking garage brought in $443,752.01.
During that same period this year, the parking meters have made $1,051,354.78, and the garage made $230,871.84.
“Municipalities always have concerns regarding a loss of revenue and the impact it may have on our budget,” Liana Woods, Athens County deputy auditor, said. “In this case, our biggest concern is how we can make up this loss of revenue in other ways.”
Social distancing, due to COVID-19, is the main contributor to the loss in parking fee revenue.
“I mean, right up until the lockdown, I believe our numbers were normal to even up a little bit,” Peter Kotses, Athens City councilman, said. “I think we can definitely draw from the data that this is all just part of the social distancing.”
Factors stemming from social distancing, such as Athens residents having been encouraged to stay at home and bars and restaurants closing, contributed to fewer people utilizing parking services.
City Council passed an ordinance earlier this summer that helped to aid businesses and make up for some parking revenue losses.
Kotses said the city has been able to make up some lost revenue through more creative measures, like allowing businesses to rent parklets.
“(Businesses) can actually rent the parking spaces to provide outdoor spaces that people can feel safer in, which might, you know, help bring a little bit more business, and, once again, more revenue back to the city,” Kotses said.
Despite the losses between March and August, there will be no budget cuts within individual city departments to make up for the losses, Kotses said.
However, there is a possibility of a cut to the city’s operational budget.
“The possible loss in parking revenue may force the city to reduce our operational budget,” Woods said.