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Latrobe prepares for parking rate increases

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

Motorists will be paying more to park in Latrobe's parking lots and on-street metered spaces once the city receives new meter mechanisms and rate plates that note the higher prices approved in September.

Latrobe Council is expected to approve on Monday an agreement with parking meter supplier Duncan Solutions Inc. of Milwaukee for 250 meters to cover the on-street parking spaces for which the city is responsible, said Alex Graziani, city manager.

The Latrobe Parking Authority is scheduled to meet on Jan. 24, at which time the authority could consider purchasing new meter mechanisms and rate plates for the metered spots in the parking lots and the downtown parking garage between Spring and Weldon streets, Graziani said.

The city and its parking authority probably will purchase about 550 new meter mechanisms and rate plates, Graziani said. He was not certain of the cost of the meters and plates describing the new rates until they determine exactly how many they will order.

The new meters could be installed within the first few months of the year, he said.

The details of the proposal for the parking meters for the garage and parking lots have not been finalized, said Martin Molina, parking authority chairman. The parking authority had received about 10 proposals from parking meter vendors, including Duncan, which has supplied the city with its existing meters, Molina said.

Although council in September approved raising the rates of the meter spaces, it withheld implementing them until it replaced the existing meters and rate plates.

Council had approved increasing rates for meters with a half-hour maximum time to $1 per hour, up from 50 cents. The rates for the two-hour meters were increased to 50 cents an hour, up from 25 cents. An hour of parking at the nine-hour meters will cost 30 cents, up from 20 cents.

The city has about 450 two-hour meters, 270 nine-hour meters and 30 one-half-hour meters spread across the on-street spaces, the parking lots and garage.

The city likely will purchase about 100 meters for the downtown parking garage. The garage has about 270 spaces, with the majority filled by motorists who purchase monthly or yearly parking passes. When the garage was in operation in 2008 and 2009, the last two years it was in full operation before it was closed for renovations in July 2010, the garage had 105 metered spaces.

Councilman Richard Jim questioned whether the city is considering eliminating some metered spaces, particularly in front of Holy Family Church on Ligonier Street.

“There's no reason for them not to stay” because those parking spaces are filled, said Councilman Robert Forish.

The city needs to keep as many parking meters as possible in order to generate revenue to pay for parking operations.

“I'm real hesitant to pull back supply,” Graziani said.

Latrobe will lose a parking lot with the construction of Westmoreland County Community College's new Latrobe campus, Graziani said.

People have asked for more parking meters that give users the chance to pay for a maximum of nine hours of time, Jim said. Some nine-hour parking meters were removed where some reserved spots were created, Jim said.

The city is considering an arrangement with Pango Shyyny USA LLC., its pay-by-phone parking operator, to sell monthly parking passes, Graziani said.

That would reduce the city's administrative costs and make it more convenient for motorists to buy the passes, Graziani said.

The city and Pango have not reached an agreement on how much the company would charge the city for such a service.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or