Coronavirus infects city’s parking revenues

File photoIn this May 2018 file photo, a man puts a coin into a parking meter on Warren Street in Hudson.

HUDSON — Stay-at-home orders have been in place for nearly three weeks and local governments are taking a hit in unusual places.

Accounting for 20% of the city’s projected revenues, parking, lodging tax, mortgage tax, building permits and use of fund balance are all expected to be affected by COVID-19, City Treasurer Heather Campbell said.

Parking revenues include parking tickets, meter fees and parking permits.

Mayor Kamal Johnson’s March 18 local state of emergency declaration ordered alternate side parking and use of parking meters in Hudson are temporarily suspended, except the South Front Street lot by the Amtrak Station.

Compared to last year, parking meter revenues fell by 43% in February, from $10,500 in 2019 to $6,000 in 2020, a loss of $4,500 for the city.

The price of an hour of parking on Warren Street rose from 25 cents to 50 cents when the Common Council voted unanimously to raise the rate at its Feb. 18 meeting.

As the first hints of spring bloomed, March’s 2019 parking meter revenue rose to $12,500. This year, it was just over half of 2019’s revenue at $6,500 - a 48% decline and a loss of $6,000 for the city.

Other factors that can contribute to fewer people parking on Hudson’s main streets including weather conditions and train travel, the stay-at-home order and closed businesses are major contributors. Cars parked at meters and not on alternate sides are no longer receiving parking tickets as a result of Johnson’s order.

February 2019 brought in $41,995 in parking ticket revenue. This year, February’s revenue declined by 19% to $34,029.

The city’s parking ticket revenue in March 2019 was $28,432. Last month, the parking ticket revenue dropped by 33% to $19,007.

In the two months since COVID-19 caused closures and cancellations, the city lost an estimated $27,891 in potential parking-related revenue alone, based on 2019’s statistics.

Late fees on all tickets given after Feb. 1 have also been waived per the mayor’s order. Usually, after 30 days the fine doubles and a $25 surcharge is added.

If the stay-at-home order remains in effect through April and May, the city’s estimated revenues will take an even larger hit. In April 2019, the city collected $6,000 in parking meter fees and $25,797 in parking ticket payments. In May 2019, the city deposited $18,500 in meter fees and $29,324 in tickets.

With weekend travel plans on pause, Airbnbs in Hudson are standing empty. Third quarter lodging taxes, which the city collects at 4% of the nightly rate, will be hurt by no-travel recommendations.

Some building permits are being issued, but on-site crews are slimmed down and nonessential construction is on hold.

“The permits may be issued depending on the request,” Code Enforcement Officer Craig Haigh said. “We will have to review the proposal of what the work is and we will have to determine if it is an emergency.”

Three sources account for 70% of the city’s projected revenues. These are property taxes, sales tax and state revenue sharing.

“Almost all of them are likely to be negatively impacted by actions related to the coronavirus,” Campbell said.

As revenues decline, the city’s expenditures are holding steady. More than half the city’s expenditures are related to personnel costs, and other non-discretionary obligations will have to be met.

The municipal lot at the Hudson Amtrak Station remains unchanged. Amtrak is operating on a reduced schedule through Hudson, with trains at 50% capacity.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency March 7, and officials started recommending social-distancing measures. On March 16 businesses, restaurants and bars were ordered to close.

Storefronts on Warren Street and other normally bustling streets in Hudson have been shuttered, as shops and restaurants turn to take-out orders, delivery and online sales in hopes of keeping their businesses afloat.

Abby Hoover is a reporter for the Register-Star. Contact her at ahoover@registerstar.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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