Parking revenue exceeds expectations

BAR HARBOR — Revenue from the town’s new paid parking system totalled $774,462 in July and August, the first two months of the fiscal year, according to Finance Director Stan Harmon.

This amount, Harmon explained to the Town Council Tuesday, is the net revenue after parking program expenses, which were $44,802 for the two months.

The revenue far exceeds projections, Harmon said.

Preliminary budget estimates were that the town might earn $510,750 from parking for the entire summer season.

“We’ve already exceeded the [parking fund] budget by $250,000,” Harmon told town councilors. If earnings stay steady, he said the budget will be exceeded “by $1.5 million when the season ends.”

This is higher than an earlier projection, when Town Manager Cornell Knight announced in late June that the town was taking in about $10,000 per day from parking meters and kiosks. Based on that trend, Town Councilor Gary Friedmann had estimated, “If you do the math… that’s a million dollars.”

At July 1 meeting, Councilor Stephen Coston defended parking meters’ role in raising money for the town.

“People talk about [the town being] greedy. If you’re a tax payer in Bar Harbor, it’s your money. I’m actually curious to see how much revenue can be generated for the town of Bar Harbor to help take the burden off tax payers.”

However, town officials are limited in what they can spend the money on. According to state statute, the revenue from parking meters must go toward purchasing, maintaining, and monitoring the meters, or constructing and maintaining public ways and public parking areas. This can include regular work that would otherwise come from the general fund, such as road striping.

Paid parking has been in effect since May 22. Permit parking for residents, employees, and guests began a month later. The paid and permit parking program will be in effect through Oct. 31.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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