If you've been to downtown Colorado Springs lately, you've likely noticed parking rates have doubled to $1.00 per hour, but that's not the only thing that's changed. As of July 1, parking meters in downtown's core only accept quarters-- dimes and nickels won't buy you a single minute. City parking officials say nickels and dimes fill the meter cups much faster than quarters, which means more work to empty them-- especially since the rate hike. City council member Jerry Heimlicher says that's not a good reason for the change.
"I personally think we owe the citizens an apology," said Heimlicher. "We're supposed to be thinking about them (the citizens) instead of the convenience of the people who collect money out of the meters."
Last month Heimlicher voted for meter rates to double in the city's core in order to encourage parking turn-over and increase business for local merchants. Heimlicher says he and other council members had no idea the "quarters only" twist would be part of the deal. In addition to shoppers, the change is frustrating several downtown businesses including Pikes Perk. Barista Jamie Miceli says lately, customers have been more interested in breaking dollars than breaking for coffee.
"We see a lot more people just getting change then leaving," said Miceli.
Heimlicher says the city council will propose to allow parking meters to accept dimes again at their August 7 meeting.