By Nathan Ham
Following months of internal discussions and research into its feasibility, the town of Boone has decided to take over its own parking enforcement matters in downtown.
The Boone Town Council approved the measure in its meeting on May 9 to not renew its contract with McLaurin Parking and will instead hire employees to handle all parking issues locally.
The movement to consider allowing the town to handle its parking enforcement started to take effect in January of this year after councilman Sam Furgiuele spoke at the council’s annual budget retreat meeting on January 31 that the town could take over parking enforcement while spending less money than the amount that the contract with McLaurin Parking called for. Furgiuele also took issue with the pay that these employees were receiving, believing that they were not paid a decent wage.
Complaints about McLaurin’s employees had also been made to the town, according to Furgiuele and he felt that it was another issue worth looking into because the town had no say in who was hired by the company to enforce parking laws in downtown Boone.
“There have been times when I recall a lot of complaints from merchants downtown and from visitors to the town with some of the treatment that they have received,” said Furgiuele.
According to information provided by town manager John Ward during the May 9 town council meeting, the current cost to the town of Boone is $226,075 for the parking contract with McLaurin Parking. The estimated cost increase for the town as they take over the parking enforcement will be approximately an additional $43,000, according to Ward.
“I think we should move forward for several reasons,” said Fergiuele.
Ward said that the town has been working with the public on some of their parking concerns and issues with the parking company.
“Through customer service training, we’ve become more compassionate for people that came in having trouble with this or that,” Ward said.
There have been some malfunctioning of parking meters in downtown and coupled with some paint peeling issues with the meters, Ward told the council that the meters are being replaced 50 at a time at no additional cost to the town.
By making this change, the town anticipates hiring four full-time employees for parking enforcement positions.