MISSOULA, Mont. - The Missoula Parking Commission hosted a round of public meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday to collect opinions on a proposed overhaul of the city's parking meter system. The set of meetings ended with a public open house on the matter, and parking staff addressed the five possible options they're looking at:
-A "pay and display" option would require a user to pay for time rather than a specific space, and display the receipt in their vehicle.
-A "pay by space" option would have users pay for a designated space, and not have to return to their vehicle to put the receipt up.
-A "pay by license plate" option would have users pay for a specific amount of time and assign it to a license plate number, and there is no need to display the receipt.
Credit card meters would look similar to the ones used today, but could accept cards. There is also talk of possibly using cell phones and mobile apps to pay the parking fees, and even the possible use of an in-car-meter.
"We're just explaining the options, trying to get people's reactions and feedback and answer any questions they have, and then we're going to use that feedback," said Dennis Burns, a Regional Vice President with Kimley-Horn and Associates, the firm hired by the parking commission to oversee the modernization of the parking system.
No word yet on exactly how much would be spent, but Burns estimates that a figure around $750,000 to $1 million is in the realm of possibility, as the city has roughly 1,100 meters.
The money for the system would come solely from the parking commission; that means revenue from tickets, leases and meters.
NBC Montana spoke with drivers in Downtown Missoula about their opinions of a possible overhaul.
"It seems like all the options are really expensive," said Missoula resident Ed Higgins.
"It just only makes sense that the city stay with the times and maybe use debit card machines," said Missoula resident Kurt Whitmire.
Parking officials will use public comment to inform proposals and specifications. Tech manufacturers would then bid, and parking officials would narrow down the list and pick a company. Burns estimates installations could happen as early as Fall.