JEROME -- Jerome community leaders and stakeholders met again Friday at the Jerome Fire Department to consider the option of parking kiosks to help fund infrastructure projects.
Jerome Fire Chief Rusty Blair said the town needs millions in revenue just to maintain the community.
“Most people don’t understand how bad it is or care,” he said.
The “workforce,” as Mayor Alex Barber calls it, is still in the research stages.
Barber said she reached out Sedona’s city manager and found out the city collected $570,000 in one year from just 101 spaces.
Blair has been a champion of paid parking for more than a decade.
“The data is here; paid-parking works,” he said.
Eric Jurisin, owner of Haunted Hamburger and Grapes, has consistently pushed the idea of honor/donation boxes as an alternative.
“They cost the town nothing other than the cost of installation,” he said.
He said he was even willing to front the expense of getting them installed.
One advantage of this method, he noted, is not having to worry about enforcement.
Blair questioned the effectiveness of donation/honor boxes as a revenue source. He said the Jerome Fire Department already has a couple donation boxes around town.
“I may get $50 on a good month,” he said.
According to the last U.S. census, Jerome has a population of 455. Jerome also receives the second-most amount of tourism in the Verde Valley, according to a Northern Arizona University-sponsored Verde Valley tourism survey.
Jerome resident and former council member Hunter Bachrach said residents in Jerome understand that tourism is a double-edged sword.
“Nobody wants this,” he said in reference to paid parking. But he also understood its necessity and asked everyone to “please be patient and supportive of town council.”
In the end, Jurisin said he was willing to compromise and support the town.
The workforce brought in Bradley Magee, owner of parking consulting firm, BMJ Consulting to offer his expertise.
“You’re not alone,” he said Friday. “Other towns and cities go through the same thing.”
But he also noted that donation boxes won’t solve Jerome’s infrastructure problems.
“If you give (tourists) an option, they won’t pay,” he said.
Council member Mandy Worth said she would like more time to research the feasibility of paid parking versus donation/honor boxes.
The workforce is scheduled to meet again on Thursday, March 21 at 11 a.m. at the Jerome Fire Department building.
Once the workforce reaches a final decision, they will give a recommendation to the town manager, who will then present a recommendation to town council. The item is slated for April’s agenda.
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