MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The City of Morgantown could see the implementation of new permits in blue curb parking neighborhoods and a rate increase in parking garages within city limits.

Morgantown Parking Authority (MPA) Director Dana McKenzie presented proposals in front of Morgantown City Council during their monthly committee of the whole, where they requested permission from the council to be given authority to implement up to a twenty percent rate increase for monthly permits at each parking garage. This was followed by requests to expand landlord permits into different neighborhoods and institute Airbnb permits for blue curb parking. The implementations are aimed at updating the rates to be equally competitive with other municipalities and expanding parking opportunities for business owners and residents, both full-time and part-time.

“One thing that I would like to suggest is the possibility of allowing the parking authority to take the parking permit prices, have twenty percent added to the permit prices, as the market allows,” said McKenzie in his presentation to council.

If approval is granted by the council, the increase in monthly parking permits for the garages would be applied to all three locations on University Avenue, Spruce Street, and the Wharf District. According to McKenzie, this would be the first time that the rates have been raised for the monthly permits at Morgantown parking garages in over ten years, maintaining below-market values for similar permits in other municipalities found in research. With an aim to keep rates at reasonable, competitive prices, McKenzie also added that there’s no intent from the MPA to take the rates past the twenty percent request.

“I don’t really see it fluctuating that much more than that (in pricing) either way, as far as what our research has shown with the different lots in the area,” said McKenzie. “We’re really not that far off year to year, if it was going to be something that would be a major change, I think it’s something where the ball would be in you guys’ (council) court,” he said.

The MPA also requested the authority to extend the blue curb permit offerings in Morgantown neighborhoods. This would include an extension of the permit terms for permanent residents from one year to two years, the inclusion of business permits, Airbnb permits, temporary permits for rental vehicles, and the extension of permits for landlords outside of the Sunnyside Neighborhood. McKenzie mentioned those proposals after discussions with business owners and property owners who wish to provide more services for their tenants.

“With this particular permit, is it gives them the ability to park anywhere in the city, as far as residential goes,” said McKenzie in relation to the new landlord permit offerings. “If a landlord has an apartment in Sunnyside, he can use it there, if he has an apartment over in South Park, he can use it there,” he said.

If the MPA is given approval to expand the permit options, landlord permits would be sold for $50 per year, visitor permits and resident permits would remain the same at $20 per year. Temporary permits would still be available for $5 per occurrence. Airbnb permits would be offered at $50 per year.

No action was taken by Morgantown City Council, but they were open to formally endorsing any changes made by the MPA. The funds taken from parking garage hourly and monthly permit rates (valued at over $2 million annually before the rate increases) would be applied to support the MPA’s over 20,000 parking spots across Morgantown city limits. The hope for McKenzie and the MPA is that after years of not raising permit rates to help customers, they’ll be endorsed by the city to do so.

“Now I understand the goal behind the passes is to keep our prices as low as possible to be fair, but as high as possible so that we meet our budget projections,” McKenzie said.

Rates of $.75 per hour for the parking garages will remain the same if the policy change is enacted.

An ordinance that would implement a new payment system for parking meters was proposed by the MPA and was taken to the council’s agenda. This removes verbage in Section 365 of the city code that would remove parameters for the rates for city parking meters.