LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Paying to park in downtown Louisville will cost more next year.

Parking garages and on-street meters operated by Parking Authority of River City (PARC) will increase on Jan. 1, 2023, the first change in parking rates since 2018.

According to a news release Monday, the increase will cover a new state parking sales tax being implemented next year, along with revenue declines connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kentucky General Assembly approved House Bill 8, which requires sales tax to be collected on parking fees. That 6% tax will be applied for parking services on surface lots, garages and meters.

PARC new rates 
  Current Average Rate  New Average Rate 
 Monthly unreserved parking  $96.07 $107.14
 Monthly reserved parking $115.83  $133.38 
 Transient hourly parking  $2  $3 
 Transient all-day parking  $20  $22 
 On-street meter parking (first 2 hours)  $2 per hour  $2.25 per hour 
 On-street meter parking (after first 2 hours)   $3 per hour  $3.35 per hour 

"PARC cannot absorb the increased expense incurred by the new sales tax," PARC Director Mike Tudor said in a news release. "Our organization is completely self-funded, and 100 percent of our revenues are reinvested back into our parking structures and services. In order to stay that way over the long term, we must raise our hourly, daily and monthly parking rates. A rate increase is something that we have considered and needed for a while; however, we held off during the COVID-19 pandemic to support businesses, particularly those downtown."

The new tax's estimated annual budget impact for PARC is $1 million, according to a news release. Tudor said the increase will allow PARC to cover annual capital expenses and infrastructure improvements. 

PARC reports its annual operating expense as $8.5 million, but, in the previous two years, it lost $4 million because of fewer people in downtown Louisville due to the pandemic.

PARC said all garages will remain $1 for the first 30 minutes, and paid parking hours on the street won't be extended. Drivers can park on the street for free after 6 p.m., and street parking will remain free on Sundays.

Due to the increased rates, PARC will offer discounted daily parking in its garages online. Discounts go up to half off the daily parking rate.

On Saturday, PARC plans to offer free on-street parking as part of Small Business Saturday. 

"While the rate increases are necessary, we want to incentivize people to continue coming downtown by offering discounts to those who pay in advance. We also understand that local businesses are still recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic," Tudor said. "By offering free on-street parking on Small Business Saturday, we are encouraging people to support their favorite restaurants and shops, as well as discover new favorites."

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