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Wilmington City Council considers parking cost hike

READ MORE: Wilmington City Council considers parking cost hike
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- It might soon cost you even more to park in downtown Wilmington. City Council is considering raising parking rates.

Faced with a more than $800,000 shortfall in the city's parking fund, City Council is thinking about adding more parking fees and extending meter hours.

Michael Lambrix owns Candles Etc. in downtown Wilmington. He says his business, and others in the area, would suffer if City Council approves the parking fee hike.

"If we have ten less customers come in, it makes a big difference," says Labrix. "When you have people thinking they can go out and buy the same thing and not have to worry about parking costs, then they're going to make that decision and not show up at your store."

City Council member Laura Padgett says she would like to see meter times extended to 9 p.m. The meter charge right now ends at 6:30.

"One of the suggestions from staff is that we extend the meter hours to nine o'clock, and I said that was a reasonable thing to do," says Padgett. "Some of the evening traffic would bare some of the cost of parking as well as the daytime traffic."

But many are saying that extending meter hours would deter them from even coming to Wilmington. Frank Popelars lives in Southport but comes to downtown a few times a month to eat dinner with his wife. He says the extended meter times might discourage how often he comes in the future.

"That would slow me down in thinking about driving this far over from Southport, then have to pay for parking," Popelars says. "At the same time, just having to use the local restaurants, I think that would deter me, or at least slow me down in my thoughts of maybe I might stay in Southport instead of coming over to Wilmington."

Another idea discussed was raising the cost of evening parking fees from $5 to $7.

Padgett says City Council plans to discuss the potential increase in parking prices during its next meeting on April 19.

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