Sarasota city leaders may be forced to install parking meters downtown despite objections by merchants and their customers.
Parking director Mark Lyons has told commissioners that unless a new revenue source materializes, taxpayers will have to make up for an expected $300 thousand budget shortfall next fiscal year and even more the year after that.
The answer, says Lyons, is for the city to finally bite the bullet and install nearly 500 parking meters in the heart of downtown along Main Street, Palm Avenue, and part of Ringling Boulevard.
That would leave thousands of other parking spaces downtown without meters.
Parking meters were installed in downtown Sarasota several years ago, but eventually remove amid pressure from opponents.
But this time may be different. The prospect of having to fill the parking department’s $300 thousand budget shortfall is just the beginning.
The city is already grappling with an overall one million dollar budget gap this year that may necessitate property tax increases, spending cuts, or a combination of the two.
Dipping into the city’s savings is also on the table.