Kate Bates, Arlington Chamber of Commerce

Kate Bates is president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.

Leadership of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce wants the county government to hit the brakes on a proposal to increase parking-meter fees and extend the hours meters must be fed.

In a letter to County Board Chairman Katie Cristol, Arlington Chamber president Kate Bates said the government failed to do proper outreach before proposing the alterations to existing policy.

County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed extending from 10 hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) to 12 hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) the time meters across the county are enforced Mondays through Saturdays. The increase would bring in approximately $2.2 million in additional revenue each year.

When the measure was last considered in 2015, Chamber members responding to a survey were “unanimous in their opposition” to longer hours, Bates said.

Since that time, “we have received no further outreach on the topic – or requests to help convene stakeholders for discussion – until being informed of the increase in the draft budget,” she wrote.

Although the proposal was couched by Arlington officials as a way to encourage turnover of parking spaces in high-traffic areas of the county, it clearly was aimed at helping fill a government budget gap.

Schwartz’s budget also calls for the first increase in parking-meter rates since 2016, increasing rates from $1.50 per hour to $1.75 per hour for short-term meters and from $1.25 per hour to $1.50 per hour for longer-term meters. The change would bring in an estimated $1.575 million in new revenue.

Schwartz also proposed increasing the fine for expired meters from $35 to $40, which would bring in about $236,500.

County Board members are expected to finalize the fiscal 2019 budget on April 21.