Rotorua is to get a new state-of-the-art parking system that will save the council about $500,000 a year.

Locals spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post are divided about what they think of the new system.

Rotorua Lakes Council has signed a contract with i-Park, whereby new technology will be installed to provide a range of ways for people to pay for public parking - including using their smartphones.

However, the new contract will impact the jobs of some council staff.

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In 2017 the council signalled changes to parking services brought about by an urgent need to modernise obsolete parking equipment and address the imbalance between increased operating costs and declining revenue.

A council media statement said a range of options to deliver a new service was investigated and the preferred choice was to partner with an external provider that could fund and set up the infrastructure upgrade and its delivery.

The council received six partner proposals and, after negotiation, signed a contract on Friday with New Zealand-owned Innovative Parking Solutions Ltd (i-Park) to deliver the new parking services.

The contract covers all central city parking, including the parking building. The rollout of the new systems is expected to happen in about September or October.

Rotorua Lakes Council chief executive signing the new contract with i-Park general manager Mike Kelly. Photo / Supplied
Rotorua Lakes Council chief executive signing the new contract with i-Park general manager Mike Kelly. Photo / Supplied

A demonstration will be conducted in the Haupapa St carpark, opposite the library, using the new technology and interface incorporated into the current pay and display machines.

This is the technology that will be rolled out across the city later this year.

During the demonstration, the carpark will continue to operate as a pay and display.

Once the new meters are installed, parking in the city will move to a "Pay by Plate" model.

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Users will be asked to enter their licence plate and how long they wish to park as part of the parking payment process.

Parking wardens will be able to determine if people have paid for their parking by checking the licence plates of vehicles.

Users will also be able to pay for their parking using a smartphone app.

Receipts can be obtained via email which means app users can pay to extend their time, if parking allows, without having to go back to their car.

"The contract with i-Park is a partnership with council and will make it easier for people to pay for parking and increase the efficiency of enforcement," acting operations group manager Henry Weston said in the media statement.

"i-Park is a specialist company within the traffic industry and its sophisticated technology gives everyone more ways to conveniently pay for parking.

"The terms of the contract keep council in control of parking policy and in receipt of revenue, without the outlay of infrastructural cost, which is expected to be about $2 million, to replace our outdated meters and other parking equipment.

"Overall we expect the contract to save council about $500,000 per year, based on current costs."

i-Park general manager Mike Kelly said the company was pleased to be partnering with the council to help modernise the city's parking systems.

"Technology and innovation are inherent in our businesses and we specialise in intelligent traffic management systems and services. Our terminals are state of the art, offering multiple options and touch-screen capability," he said.

Weston said the new parking services allowed the council to better position parking services for current and future growth and demand.

"As well as increasing compliance, the new system fulfils council's aim to provide efficient, modern and cost-effective services to the community.

"The software will also allow us to promote local activities and events on terminal screens in future and gives us the flexibility to vary parking restrictions and accept all payment options – from coins to mobile parking apps. There's also the ability for multi-language functions, including te reo Māori."

The council media statement said options for staff who would be affected by the contract were being worked through with the staff and their union representatives.

i-Park will progressively take over the services from the council from July 1, the start of the 2018/19 financial year.

There are more than 3550 vehicle parks in the central city, including more than 500 metered and pay-and-display parks.

Shopper David Young said he always had a stash of coins in his van for parking, but was less likely to have his phone or eftpos card.

"It should need to include a coin pay, it's diabolical for people having to mess around paying with eftpos or an app.

"Sometimes you just want to pop quickly into a shop so you throw a 10c in, you don't want to be messing around."

Young said he would like the council to look at the free parking locations.

"It seems a bit unfair that on some streets it's free and others you've got to pay."

Artisan Cafe owner Greg Thompson didn't see an issue with the planned changes to parking.

"It's a great idea. We've come so far with technology now and there's very few people actually carrying coins around.

"It's great to see people catching up and it's all about getting people into the CBD."