Free holiday parking in downtown Beaufort will be up for consideration when Beaufort City Council meets Tuesday -- just days before a contract with the city's current parking manager expires.
Typically, parking meters are marked with bows and tags to inform motorists they can park free for two hours in any of about 450 spaces. Motorists also can pay for additional time.
In recent years, the free parking has started the Friday after Thanksgiving and continued through New Year's Day as a way to entice people to do their holiday shopping downtown.
However, if the program is enacted this year, it's not clear how the rules will be enforced.
The city's five-year contract with Lanier Parking, known locally as Park Beaufort, expires Nov. 4. City finance director Kathy Todd said the contract does not include extension options, although city officials intend to keep working with the company on a month-to-month basis until a new contract is in place.
Todd said Monday she wasn't sure whether city staff could extend the arrangement with Park Beaufort or if that would require a council vote.
Attempts Monday to reach city attorney Bill Harvey, Mayor Billy Keyserling and Lanier general manager Tina Reid for comment were unsuccessful.
City officials began seeking proposals for a new contract in September and are considering four offers, including one from Park Beaufort. However, City Council isn't expected to vote on a contract until Nov. 18, Todd said.
The agenda for Tuesday's meeting, which begins with a work session at 5 p.m. and a voting meeting at 7 p.m., only includes the request for the holiday parking program.
If a company other than Park Beaufort is awarded the new contract, it's not clear when it would be able to start service. That leaves Main Street Beaufort, USA, executive director LaNelle Fabian wondering how the free-parking program will be monitored, if it's approved.
Parking proceeds are split among the contractor, Main Street and the city's Redevelopment Commission.
"In the past, when we did not have a parking company, Main Street Beaufort and volunteers put bows on the meters ourselves," she said. "So we will be happy to do it again."
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
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