Carrboro postpones charging for public parking, approves budget for next year

GOVERNMENT

By Fraser Sherman
Correspondent

If Carrboro starts charging for public parking, it won’t happen until fall.

In March, the Town Council discussed whether to charge for downtown parking on town property, and asked town staff to develop a proposal. A parking ordinance went on the agenda for the June 18 meeting. As it was the last business meeting until September, the agenda was packed and the meeting ran over four hours. The council members decided to postpone the discussion.

“I have asked for urgency on this item,” Councilor Danny Nowell said, “but realistically, we’d want to talk about it for an hour.”

Why charge?

Carrboro allows drivers to park on town property for up to two hours. Back in March, Carrboro Economic Development Director Jon Hartman-Brown said most drivers ignore the limit as there’s no fine for staying longer and nobody on staff writes parking tickets. Because town parking spaces are free and convenient, they fill up fast, leaving later arrivals driving around hunting for spaces.

The ordinance, available online, converts Carrboro-owned garage, on-street and lot parking from free to fee. The exact amount will be set in the city’s schedule of service fees. Parking for a half-hour or less won’t be charged. The town will discount fees 50 percent for residents who meet various criteria, such as living in public housing. Parking without paying or overstaying the time limit earns a $20 fine, rising to $50 for subsequent violations. The town will hire a parking officer to write tickets.

Councilor Randee Haven-O’Donnell said waiting for fall was probably good, as it would allow for more outreach to residents and more time to explain the reasons for the fees. The town has invited residents and businesses to comment via the online comment form, email at EconDev@CarrboroNC.gov, or mail to the Economic Development Office. The town is taking comments through July 19.

Council approves budget for next fiscal year

The council voted unanimously to pass the town staff’s recommended 2025 budget. Councilor Randee Haven-O’Donnell said that given that the council doesn’t know how the federal or North Carolina elections will play out, Carrboro may need to use some of its cash to help its residents.

“The example I’m going to give that I’m very concerned about, immigration,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “If we have to find a way to go it alone on immigration or amnesty, if we have to find ways to support families with food, we have to do it indirectly.” She added that she had already discussed this with other council members.

The $68.3 million town budget is 15.8% smaller than the 2024 budget, primarily because the 203 project is wrapping up. Major new expenses for the fiscal year 2025 include:

  • A 10% pay increase for existing staff – 3% of that is a cost of living increase and 7% a one-time market adjustment.
  • Adding 15 new staff positions.
  • $225,000 to rewrite the town’s land-use ordinance.
  • $200,000 spent on the downtown master plan.
  • $400,000 spent on new software and other IT expenses.

The council passed the budget unanimously.

Bike detectors to be installed at four intersections

As part of the consent agenda, the council voted to spend up to $138,975 installing bike detectors at four city intersections: Main Street at Roberson Street, Main Street at North Greensboro Street, Weaver Street at North Greensboro Street, and NC 54 at West Poplar Avenue.

Traffic sensors at intersections may not detect bicycles, Bike Walk NC says. Cyclists sometimes give up waiting and cross against the red light, even though they’re legally obligated to follow traffic rules. Sensor loops embedded in the roadway can detect the bicycle and trigger the light. That lets cyclists move faster and increases overall safety. However cyclists will need to position their bikes over the loops for the system to work.

The resolution commits the town to accept the lowest responsible bidder under the approved price.


Fraser Sherman has worked for newspapers, including the Destin Log, the Pensacola News-Journal and the Raleigh Public Record. Born in England, he’d still live in Florida if he hadn’t met the perfect woman and moved to Durham to marry her. He’s the author of several film reference books and has published one novel and several short story collections.
This reporter can be reached at Info@TheLocalReporter.press

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