by Paul Leakan
(Friday, July 3) Despite some public opposition, Clarksburg City Council passed the parking rate increase ordinances Thursday before a capacity crowd in council chambers.
The ordinances increase on-street and off-street parking meter rates to 50 cents per hour and monthly rates by $5. The increase marks the first council-regulated parking increase in 20 years.
The parking increases, which are estimated to generate $124,967 in yearly revenue, will help upgrade the Hewes Avenue parking garage and the Clarksburg-Harrison County Library parking lot.
Before council voted on the ordinances, council faced an emotional plea by Clarksburg citizen Margaret Ann Bailey.
"How will this affect other citizens coming into town?" Bailey asked. "You members of council must get away from the mentality that all your problems can be fixed by raising fees and taxes," Bailey added.
Though Bailey's words were taken into account, all members of council, excluding Mayor Louis Iquinto, felt the increases were the only feasible way to remedy Clarksburg's parking woes.
The deteriorating conditions at the parking garage were a concern that couldn't be put off any longer, some council members said.
"Unless we do something, that parking lot will fall," said Councilwoman Kathy Folio.
Improvements to the parking garage are estimated at $901,500. The face-lift to the library parking lot, which includes the addition of 24 free spaces and 35 metered spaces, is estimated at $218,650.
Council also passed an ordinance approving an employment agreement for City Manager Percy Ashcraft.
The agreement extends Ashcraft's contract by two years, expiring on December 31, 2000. Ashcraft's base annual salary, currently $57,694, will also increase to $61,000, beginning January 1, 1999.
In other business, council passed an ordinance revising the city's sign regulations. The ordinance now legalizes manufacturer's banners for businesses, which had been previously prohibited.