Sep. 29—The Reading Parking Authority might be one of the most disliked organizations in Reading.
Officials at the authority understand the animosity but are trying to work with city residents, they said. On Tuesday night, the authority voted to expand the time period to pay parking violations
Parking violations needed to be paid within 10 days of being issued or it was considered late. After 30 days, another late fee was issued.
Violations now have to be paid within 30 days of being issued before it is considered late. Another late fee will be added if the violation has not been paid within 60 days.
"This is meant to accommodate some of the new ticketing that is occurring, which is not using a paper ticket but is actually a paperless system," said authority solicitor Mahlon J. Boyer.
The authority has been issuing tickets by mail for street sweeping and double parking violations, officials said.
Residents have complained that by the time they received their ticket in the mail, the 10-day period had already passed.
"This is a direct response to some of the feedback we got," said board Chairman Timothy J. Profit. "People have not received their tickets in a timely fashion. We're not here to penalize people. We want to find proactive ways to increase Reading. Violations are just a necessary evil."
"Our goal is to be kinder, gentler," Profit added.
Executive Director Nathan Matz has also set a date to meet with the public to discuss their issues with the parking authority.
Last week, two protests were held to denounce the parking authority. One was held on Monday outside of City Hall and the second was held Tuesday outside of the parking authority's office.
"I went out and spoke to the people that were there," Matz said. "We listened to their concerns.
The meeting will be on Oct. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.
"This is the stuff we talked about when the board came in," Profit said. "We wanted to have meetings throughout the city to discuss concerns. The pandemic has certainly halted us from doing so."
The meter rates
The parking authority also agreed to keep parking meter rates at $1 per hour instead of raising the rate to $2 per hour.
The board decided at the beginning of 2021 to temporarily cut the meter rates from $2 per hour to $1 per hour for six months. The rate cut was because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Eddie Moran asked the board to keep the rate cut in place.
"We are going to hold the current rate dollar per hour at the request of City Hall," Matz said. "We will continue to operate for the foreseeable future at the dollar per hour rate."
Profit said keeping the meter rates at $1 per hour does come at a significant cost to the authority.
"It's not a small number, it's a big number," Profit said. "But the mayor, his staff and City Council feel we should hold rates as low as we can hold them. That's a direct request of the mayor and I tend to agree with him."
Profit added that since the authority is in a strong financial position it can sustain the lower rate.
The parking authority also said it was not considering expanding parking meter enforcement to seven days a week.
Pastor Steven McCracken submitted public comment to City Council on Monday night that he heard the authority wanted to enforce parking meters on Sundays.
"I and members of my congregation are requesting that the administration and counsel [sic] deny the authorities [sic] request to allow parking meters to be active on Sundays," wrote McCracken, who is a pastor at St. James Chapel Church of Christ in God. "Needless to say, that would have a negative impact on our Sunday services.
The authority is trying to do the opposite, Profit said.
"We're actually looking for times to cut that back," he said. "We're not lengthening it. We're looking for opportunities in certain areas to scale back the enforcement times."