Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2013 City Budget, Proposed Solar Ordinance Slated for Adoption

By Christina Georgiou

Easton City Council is likely to adopt the proposed 2013 city budget this evening, along with an increase in parking rates and an extension of hours, after discussing the plan at their workshop meeting Tuesday evening.

Once again, the issues of parking and parking meters dominated the discussion.

City officials said they would be voting on the budget ordinance, and the related parking ordinance to support it, as it was introduced at their last regular meeting, on Nov. 28.

No further changes are anticipated to the plan to raise parking meter rates to $1 per hour and extend the hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and add hours from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays at this time, the mayor and council members said.

While some council members have seemed opposed to the changes, all seemed likely to vote in favor of them.

"My understanding is that the budget only balances if we approve (parking) at $1," said Councilwoman El Warner.

City Administrator Glenn Steckmann said having metered parking in operation from  noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays is for the convenience of and to garner revenue from those visiting Crayola.

"That way they won't have to leave Crayola to feed the meters," he said.

Officials said they plan to distribute placards to Downtown church religious leaders that they can give to worshippers so they won't have to worry about getting a ticket while attending services.

"Our goal is not to have someone walk out of church to a ticket," Steckman said.

council members also discussed whether it might be a good idea to amend the proposed hours meters would be in effect in the evenings, but were uncertain if the move would require the ordinance to be readvertised. City solicitors were not present Tuesday evening.

"I think we're locked into whatever we've said all along," said Councilman Ken Brown.

"I'm willing to go to the $1, with 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. That's what last came out of this room and what people expect us to vote on. Any other changes, I think we'd need another budget ordinance," said Mayor Sal Panto. "It can alway be adjusted mid-year. The only thing it affects is a line item. We'd have to look for the money then."

"I'm done with discussing parking for the rest of my life," Warner said.

In other business, the council held a hearing to discuss enacting an ordinance that would regulate the placement of solar collectors in the city.

The proposed law is designed to spell out where and how they can be placed, and to preempt potential conflicts that could arise from collectors being blocked by future development, city officials say.

Council engaged in little discussion on the matter, and there were no comments from members of the public either.

The ordinance is set to be introduced formally in January. Officials noted that public hearings would be held again at that time to hear input from any interested members of the public.

They added that unless a matter of pressing importance comes up suddenly, the meeting tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 12, will be the last city council meeting of the year.

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