Rotorua business owners are disgruntled after changes to the inner-city parking which they say have been poorly communicated and include a move away from using coins.

But the council says the changes have been well advertised and were prompted by the need to consider future parking demands and modernise equipment.

The phasing in of Rotorua's new parking machines began in November last year and aimed to improve inner-city parking in Rotorua.

Rotorua Lakes Council partnered with service provider i-Park in May 2018 but parking policy and fee setting remained with the council. The parking tariff remains at $1 per hour.

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"The new system is focused on providing modern and convenient payment options for users, higher turnover of car parks to ensure ease of parking in our inner city, and to ensure our parking system is consistent and fair for all users," Rotorua Lakes Council's operations group manager Henry Weston said.

Atlantis Books owner Fraser Newman said although the fundamental scheme hadn't changed, he believed there were "big problems" around payment methods and amounts. The minimum amount is 50c and credit cards carry a 50c fee.

"You cannot just chuck 20 cents in the machine anymore."

The new and improved parking machines now installed around town. Photo / Leah Tebbutt
The new and improved parking machines now installed around town. Photo / Leah Tebbutt

Newman felt the changes had not been communicated well including the new 20c fee for a receipt which he questioned whether would be needed to dispute a parking fine.

"The fees on top of it [parking] are a massive increase and I don't think that is justified.

"Three per cent is normally the maximum credit card charge. So on a 50c bill that will be about a cent-and-a-half."

The bookshop owner said countless customers had been negative about the changes.

One business owner who wanted to remain anonymous agreed the new machines would benefit Rotorua but was irritated with some of the changes.

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She said lack of signage, not all machines taking coins and people abusing the 60-minutes free parking were all concerns.

"There is no signage so people don't know they can cross the road and use the machine with coins.

Managing director at Friend Wholesalers Tracey Friend said last year when she heard the proposed parking changes to the CBD she was not concerned because she didn't believe there should be free parking for everyone.

But now she is worried about where workers could park all day.

Friend said all of her 12 staff were females, most of them had children, so it was not viable for them to take a bus or bike.

"I am just worried that they haven't allowed for any long-term parking for anyone."

Weston said prior to the implementation of the new system, parking costs were inconsistent throughout the inner city.

Weston said the council had repeatedly received feedback from businesses that their customers were unable to locate parking spaces due to people parking outside their business all day.

"Obsolete equipment and the manual nature of enforcement also meant many users were able to avoid paying to park in paid parking spaces."

He said the 50c credit card surcharge was a standard industry practice across New Zealand and covered providing and maintaining the card reader technology and a transaction fee.

"Half of the new machines still accept coins. Parking systems throughout the country are moving away from coin payments however council has ensured this option (coins) is still available.

"Our inner city now provides modern parking technology, flexible payment options, consistent and fair costs and time restrictions, and improved enforcement."

Weston said a parking payment app was intended to be available by the end of March and would allow users to pay for parking from their smartphone, upload credit to their account, and keep a record of their parking payments.

He recommended the Pukuatua St parking building for those wanting to park in the city all day and said there were free and paid all day parking spaces within walking distance of the inner city.