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Free parking or paying more for a space in central Oamaru are the options facing the Waitaki District Council on Tuesday.
The council will decide on the future of parking machines, which have reached the end of their life.
The Waitaki branch of the Otago Chamber of Commerce wants a one-year trial of free parking with strictly enforced time limits, but council staff are recommending new parking machines paid for by dramatically increasing parking fees.
If the council opts for new machines, on-street parking could rise from 60c an hour to $1.50 and off-street from 40c to $1.20, with all-day parking $4 a day instead of the present $2.
If a free-parking trial were successful, instead of user pays, 20% of the cost of free parking could be met by Oamaru businesses through the business rate and 80% by ratepayers in the Oamaru and Corriedale wards.
Asset group manager Neil Jorgensen said the user pays option had the least effect on rates. While this meant an increase in parking charges, these had not risen since the machines were installed in 2002.
He also pointed out that more than half of the 1700 parking spaces in Oamaru had no parking restrictions.
If machines were replaced, the new charges would take effect from July 1 next year.