Seattle parking-fee hike OK’d — with limits

The Seattle City Council struck a compromise today with Mayor Mike McGinn on metered parking in the 2011 budget, allowing rates of up to $4 an hour but requiring a citywide study of metered parking use.

The council, in a departure from the mayor’s budget, voted to continue free parking on Sundays. But the council left open the possibility of extending metered parking from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and Saturday, as the mayor had proposed.

McGinn and the council remained at odds over what turned out to be the most controversial part of the budget: the mayor’s proposed increase in commercial-parking taxes that would have raised $10 million for the South Park Bridge and some bike and pedestrian projects.

The council did not approve the additional tax on commercial parking garages. The mayor had wanted to raise the tax to 17.5 percent from 12.5 percent.

To make up for that loss of tax revenue, the council found a way to use $8.5 million in state money headed for the Museum of History & Industry in a settlement deal with the state.

In essence, the council agreed to delay passing along the $8.5 million to MOHAI, although the funds will be turned over to the museum at a later date.

That funding — along with a few increased fees — allowed the council to restore some human-services programs, set aside $176,000 in additional money for homeless shelters, and make up some community-center hours the mayor had proposed cutting.

The council voted Friday morning on more than 100 items, completing the major decision-making for next year’s budget. Council members plan a 1 p.m. news conference to discuss their choices.

The mayor and council had to close a $67 million budget gap in the city’s general fund. In 2010, the general-fund budget was $905 million.

By Emily Heffter

Seattle Times staff reporter

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