County Board votes against lakefront parking meters

MetersCounty Executive Scott Walker’s effort to install parking meters along the lakefront to cork an $80 million hole in Milwaukee County’s 2010 budget has been rejected.

The County Board of Supervisors voted 15-4 Wednesday to reject a Walker veto that would have implemented the meter project. Fourteen board members originally rejected the meters on Nov. 9.

The plan to install $1-per-hour parking meters along Lincoln Memorial Drive, Lagoon Drive and other lakefront parking lots has faced most of its opposition from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which already pays the county $94,000 annually for student and staff parking in these areas.

If implemented, the meters would have brought in $450,000 from 1,025 parking spots next year, Walker said.

“Parking meters not only provide an important new revenue stream so that users of the lakefront pay a portion of the growing costs of providing services, but also serve as an additional tool that Parks Department staff and law enforcement personnel can use for crowd control and traffic management,” Walker said in a budget veto document.

If the meters had been added, the university would have seriously considered ending its parking agreement with the county, Tom Luljak, UW-Milwaukee vice chancellor of university relations and communications, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in October.

Students opposed to the parking meter legislation included Jay Burseth, president of UWM’s Student Association.

“The cost of going to higher education (both financial and social) is rising while the opportunity to get a career or job for too many of our constituents is still uncomfortably low,” Burseth said in a letter he wrote to county supervisors. “Adding further burdens on students will only create more problems, not solve them.”

Tara Reiser, a sophomore at UWM, frequents the parks often and said she enjoys the free parking along the lakefront.

“If they put parking meters there, I won’t be able to go as much as I’d like to,” Reiser said. “I’m a broke college student on a budget, and those meter fees add up.”

Luljak has said the installation of the parking meters would amount to an admission fee to lakefront parks. The meters would also be placed at McKinley Marina and Veterans Park.

Walker’s attempt to reinstate the parking meters was part of his plan to eliminate any increase in the property tax levy in the coming year, according to his 2010 budget.

In other Milwaukee county and city budget news from Wednesday:

The County Board rejected Walker’s plan to outsource security at county buildings. However, it didn’t override a proposal to privatize housekeeping.

A veto in the city budget by Mayor Tom Barrett on Wednesday restores the number of furlough days Milwaukee police officers must take from one to two.