Time is running out on Carlisle’s dated parking meters.
The meters from Civic Smart, formerly known as Duncan, were purchased in 1992 and have a life expectancy of 25 years.
Now, at the 26th year, the borough council is looking at a proposal to replace the short-term (silver) meters downtown with smart meters.
“Those are the meters that we have the most trouble with that are constantly breaking down. They are used the most,” said Stacey Hamilton, parking supervisor for the borough.
The proposal also recommends raising parking rates for the first time since 2006.
Borough staff looked at options from Civic Smart, IPS Group and POM before settling on IPS Group, which has more than 300,000 parking meters in operation nationwide.
The borough would purchase 650 refurbished Smart Parking Meters from IPS Group for $174,440. Funding would come from reserves in the parking fund, which receives its income from parking.
The smart meter mechanism would retrofit over the current housings and would allow credit or debit cards to be taken at the meter.
The meters would be able to communicate with a data management system. Hamilton said this will give her department real time data not only on which meters are down, but also why they are malfunctioning. It will also give the borough a better picture of which areas of downtown have higher meter usage.
Because the meters require wireless technology to communicate with this web-based data system, there would also be a $43,000 annual wireless fee to run the meters.
The meters would also be able to be programmed to allow free or discounted parking for special events, Hamilton said.
The new meters would retain the 15-minutes free feature on current meters. If the borough does not move ahead with the proposed smart meters, this feature will eventually go away because Civic Smart no longer makes those mechanisms.
Hamilton said she found that out when she called to order more mechanisms. Instead, the company said she would have to buy their smart meters, which would also require the purchase of additional equipment.
The borough has 78 extra parking meter mechanisms in stock. It faces the potential to lose meters each year as the meters must be tested through a state program. The meters that fail the test have to be taken off the streets.
Last year, 12 meters failed the tests, Hamilton said.
If the borough switches to the smart meters, it will also have to decide what to do with its pay-by-phone option. Drivers now have the option to pay for their parking meter by phone through Passport Parking which carries a convenience fee of 20 cents per transaction. IPS Group offers its own pay-by-phone option, which would cost 13 cents per transaction.
The proposal calls for parking rates to be increased from 50 cents per hour to 75 cents per hour for cash payments and $1.15 per hour for credit card payments. Currently, credit payments through Passport Parking cost 95 cents an hour.
Inflation is one reason for the higher rates, Borough Manager Matt Candland said. Adjusting for inflation alone would put rates at about 65 cents per hour.
The increased rates would also cover the cost of the $43,000 wireless fee for the smart meters as well as the service charge fees for credit card transactions, which range from 25 cents for Visa, Mastercard and Discover to 45 cents for corporate credit cards.