FLINT, MI — City Council members want an attorney’s opinion on whether they can get rid of paid parking at metered spots around City Hall.

Councilman Herbert Winfrey on Monday, March 23, proposed the council do “all things necessary” to have meters in the area removed but withdrew his motion to do so to give city attorneys time to study the council’s authority.

Although Fifth and Seventh streets, north and south of City Hall, do not have metered parking, both sides of South Saginaw Street in the area do.

“I have had way too many calls from constituents who have had problems even trying to pay …,” Winfrey said during council’s Monday meeting. “It’s just not fair for our citizens … I think the best thing that could happen is just to remove those parking meters so that constituents can come to City Hall, doing their business and not worry about getting a ticket.”

Flint AutoPark added its automated, metered parking system last year through the city’s Downtown Development Authority. 

The meters were promoted as easier to use than previous meters, allowing payment with coins or through a free mobile application that also allows people to check their meter time and pay for more time remotely.

The system is being leased, with no cost to Flint, for associated hardware, software, repairs, maintenance, or future updates, according to Flint Journal files, and revenue generated by Flint AutoPark is shared by the DDA and its vendor.

Downtown street parking at meters costs $1 each hour with a two-hour maximum between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Street parking is free at all other times. Tickets are mailed to violators based on license plate information and carry a $25 penalty.

MLive-The Flint Journal could not reach DDA Executive Director Gerard Burnash for comment on Winfrey’s proposal, but several other council members said they also support freeing up additional free parking for residents who have business at City Hall.

“Senior citizens are coming down and they are having problems trying to figure out the parking meters,” Councilwoman Jerri Winfrey-Carter said.

The DDA was established pursuant to a 1975 state law to “correct and prevent deterioration in the downtown district; to encourage historical preservation, to create and implement development plans in the district, to promote economic growth and redevelopment of the district and to encourage the expansion of commercial enterprises in the downtown district.”

Mayor Sheldon Neeley is the chairman of the DDA Board of Directors.
Last month, Neeley ordered two parking spots be reserved for seniors who may need to make quick trips to City Hall.

The Senior Express Parking option offers seniors 30 minutes of free parking in the two spots — north of handicapped parking spots in front of City Hall — on South Saginaw.

The Journal could not reach Neeley for comment on the council members’ pursuit of additional free parking.