Lawmakers could force cities to share parking meter revenue


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – High prices and cars that require less gas — and therefore contribute less to gas taxes — have left the Florida Department of Transportation with less money to build roads.

Legislation awaiting the Governor's signature could be the first step toward cities being forced to share parking meter revenue with the state.

The state right of way extends from sidewalk to sidewalk, so any parking spaces or meters are technically on state controlled land. And nearly every city in Florida has a major state road running right through it, many with parking meters lining the road.

The legislation passed but not yet signed orders cities to report their parking meter revenue from meters on state roads by Aug. 31.

Transportation Commission Chairman Ron Howse said the issue is more about fairness than making money.

"When a local government demands we increase their parking and then they charge on it, there needs to be some fairness of equity brought back to the department," he said.

This spring marks the third year in a row the state has made a grab for the meter money. The Florida League of Cities said revenues and policies vary from city to city.

"It's all across the map, but we do have some that they make very little apparently," said Ryan Padgett of the Florida League of Cities. "They basically cover the cost of the parking meters and the enforcement, that's about it."

Cities that don't report their earnings by August could be ordered to take their meters out.

But one concern is that the same person who collects money from meters on state roads also collects from all the meters around the corner, which aren't on state roads. That means money from one street can't be kept with money from the other.

Once the cities report their earnings from the meters, state lawmakers will have the final say on if they have to share.