The Hastings' CBD free parking trial has been extended for six months - costing the district's council a further $270,000.
So far the trial has lost the local authority $370,000 in revenue with Marketview reports showing very little overall direct benefit from free parking to retailers, for what is essentially a ratepayers' cost.
A council spokeswoman said the continued trial would give it more time to explore other options for paying for central city parking should they decide to continue it.
She said it would also allow for more data to be gathered on whether not having to pay for parking through meters has led to improved economic outcomes.
During the annual plan rounds, 80 per cent of people who submitted on the matter wanted to return to a user-pays system.
Despite this Mayor Lawrence Yule said he was conscious that the CBD "for the first time in a long time" is doing really well.
He said the Hastings City Business Association, the key driver behind the initiative, and "a whole lot or people" wanted free parking.
He said equally, he hears those ratepayers who do not want to pay for the initiative through their rates.
"I am trying to support the business association and the retailers [because] things are going really well," he said. "But I equally get the submitters, the ratepayers [who] didn't want to pay it.
"So can we find another way that in the mix of all that that can work, and I am hopeful we can."
During debate Councillor Simon Nixon said council needed to look at ways of reducing rates not increasing them.
Councillor Jacoby Poulain also addressed the cost, noting that she knew people who only paid $10 a year to park under the user-pays system, and now they were being asked to pay $30 in their rates for the same privilege - if council voted to make free parking permanent.
Councillor Rod Heaps said there were many people out there who he believed did not benefit from the free parking.
However, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Bowers said it was one of the "building blocks" in growing city vibrancy.
"Which is a good thing for our whole district. The sticking point is paying for that, and extending the trial gives us time to put our minds to solving that issue," she said.
When asked if after six months the council would again consult with the public on the issue, Mr Yule said he did not know.
"We either potentially carry it on or we stop it then," he said. "[But] I think we need to get a slightly better sense from the public at that point after it has been running for a year.
"We will probably have to include something in next year's annual plan if we are going to make it a permanent feature."
Mr Yule said during this further trial period council would look at other ways of paying for the free parking such as increasing the fines for over-stayers.