In a few weeks, shoppers in downtown Beaufort can pay for some parking spaces with plastic.
Ten parking meters that accept coins and credit or debit cards will be installed on Bay Street next month. The meters will be tested for 60 days, according to a news release.
If they go over well, the city will replace all downtown meters with ones that take cards. The meters need to be replaced anyway because they are 14 years old and "beyond efficient maintenance," City Manager Scott Dadson said in the release.
Dadson also said downtown businesses and shoppers have expressed interest in paying for parking with a debit or credit card.
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The city already allows parking spaces in the Downtown Marina lot to be paid for with debit or credit cards. That's cut down on parking tickets in that lot, according to Lundy Baker, project manager for Lanier Parking Solutions, which manages Beaufort's parking.
"People can easily buy the most time available on the meter, as opposed to paying with handfuls of quarters and dimes," Baker said in the release.
The combination coin/card meters cost $595 each, compared to $450 for coin-only versions. The cost difference typically is recouped within a year because people buy more time using their credit cards and debit cards, Baker said.
Hourly parking rates will remain unchanged. Parking rules are enforced downtown from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Parking is free on Sundays and recognized holidays.
The new meters will also accept dollar coins and tokens. They will look the same as the current meters and aren't the larger "parking kiosks" the city tried out three years ago.
Parking revenues are split with 85 percent going to the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission and 15 percent going to Main Street Beaufort USA. None of the money goes into Beaufort's general fund.