Hamilton's CBD free parking trial is losing money at an annualised rate of $806,000 a year while only 20 per cent of cars parked in the CBD are being recorded in the system, city councillors heard on Tuesday.
The free parking trial allows people to park in the CBD for two hours per day for free. Each hour after is $6.
Councillor Garry Mallett engaged in heated debate with councillor Dave Macpherson as he struggled to get answers on parking revenue during the trial so far.
He hit out at the latest council report that failed to show revenue loss from on street parking since October last year.
"That is what I have been trying to get for the past six months," Cr Mallett said.
"I thought this would have been basic governance. I am trying to get some figures out of here."
After being cut off by councillor Macpherson who chairs the Growth and Infrastructure committee, Mr Mallett then used a calculator and did calculations himself from figures in the update report before sharing the totals with fellow councillors.
"The revenue we got from the previous year from October 1 up to February — we received $566,000.
"The revenue since we started the free parking trial was $299,000 over that same period of time, so, we have lost $337,000 which is 59 per cent. When you annualise it you have a loss of $806,000."
Councillor Leo Tooman also highlighted a fault in the trial as the wardens only work until 5.30pm, yet the free two-hour rule applies until 8pm.
"Why do we have this until 8pm at night?" Cr Tooman said.
"If we are going to keep this extended until 8pm that would mean an increase in staff."
Council staff admitted they have been falling short on resources with other requests around the city they also needed to attend to.
The revenue loss wasn't the only worry for councillors as the report had indicated that only 20 per cent of cars were being validated in the system when they are parked, which means that some parkers are able to stay longer than two hours and not be caught.
Council staff had originally aimed for a 70 per cent validation rate when the trial began.
The report to council from staff said the problems are due to a lack staff and technology restrictions.
If a vehicle has parked in one spot in the CBD and then has parked in another and used its free two hours for the day the parking wardens are alerted on their hand-held devices when they scan the car's registration. A ticket may then be issued.
However, due to technology constraints they are unable to see where the car has parked earlier in the day and wardens must report back to their controller via radio who can spend up to five minutes finding the required information for the wardens. The warden then spends another two minutes writing out the ticket.
Parking wardens have provided feedback to the council saying that they no longer find the job stimulating and they are walking a lot further.
Despite the flaws, businessman Colin Hancock of Trek 'N' Travel spoke during the meeting's public forum session in support of the the two-hour free parking, saying customers are happier and no longer looking at their watches all the time.
He was in support of continuing to pay the targeted rate of $150 to $200 a year for central city properties and $26 a year for Free CBD parking trial flaws found general ratepayers.
Councillor Mallett was not convinced.
"I think those who benefit from the parking should pay for it, i.e. the parkers," Cr Mallett said.
"It would seem for the five months, since October 1 through to the end of February the ratepayers have lost $337,000."
Leo Tooman also supported Cr Mallett's argument.
"What we have done is give everyone two-hour free parking and everybody loves to have something free, but then we have increased the rest of the parking to $6 an hour to claw back what we are going to give away," Cr Tooman said.
"I don't think we are doing that because we are not taking into account the number of infringement notices we are missing out on."
Mayor Andrew King and councillors Macpherson, Geoff Taylor, Siggi Henry, Angela O'Leary, Ryan Hamilton, Mark Bunting and Rob Pascoe supported receiving an update at the next Growth and Infrastructure meeting to make a final decision on the trial.
Councillors James Casson, Mallett and Tooman were against the motion.
Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher and councillor Paula Southgate were absent attending former councillor Jean Vickridge's funeral.