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Southport leaders to explore paid parking

The mayor said there will be a discussion coming at a later date
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 4:21 PM EST
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SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) - Paid parking is becoming a more common sight around Southeastern North Carolina, from Carolina Beach all the way to Topsail Beach; now, another coastal community is considering its options to help bring in more revenue.

On Tuesday, Southport leaders held a workshop ahead of the busy season — one of the items of discussion was supposed to be paid parking; however, at the last minute, the Board of Aldermen agreed to move the discussion to a later date.

Paid parking brings in millions of dollars across Southeastern North Carolina every year for towns, so it’s not surprising that municipalities look to it to help boost revenues.

The City of Southport has hundreds of parking spaces currently available free of charge, but the bulk of them are on-street parking.

State law says what cities can, and can’t do with parking revenues generated from parking programs.

Basically, paid parking programs using meters for on-street parking have to use the revenues generated to fund maintenance or enforcement of those programs.

It can’t be used to help pad the general fund unless towns get exemptions from the state Generally Assembly.

Mayor Joe Pat Hatem said the idea behind paid parking is to have visitors help pay their share.

“The discussion mainly originated — how can we tap into tourism? You know, it’s our economic engine, so how can tourism help pay for infrastructure that tourists use whether it’s our roads, our police, Fort Johnston, the visitors center?” he said.

When it comes to private parking lots that the town operates, they are permitted to use the funds collected for any purpose they see fit which could help keep property taxes lower for residents.

The mayor said there will be a discussion coming at a later date, but did not say when that would happen.

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