HORSHAM council has almost $3 million in its reserves from parking meter fees and fines.
The rate for a paid parking spot in Horsham's CBD is $1 per hour.
The council's development services director Angela Murphy said money collected from parking meter fees and fines was set aside to upgrade the city's CBD.
She said the council had $2.817 million in its CBD development reserve as of June 30, 2019.
"The purpose of the reserve is to improve and upgrade our streetscapes in the Horsham CBD," she said.
"It depends on what projects are coming forward as to what we spend it on, but it could be on trees, benches and other beautification infrastructure. The money is not to be spent on operational tasks such as maintenance and cleaning."
The council forecasted it would generate $390,000 from parking meter fees and fines this financial year in its 2019-20 Budget.
The council endorsed its Municipal Parking Strategy report in December 2017. The report said the provision of paid parking spaces compared to free parking was always a "contentious topic".
"Most people favour free parking because they believe it is simply that, 'free', however free parking does not take into consideration the real cost that council incurs including maintenance, construction and enforcement," the report said.
"Paid parking ensures council has the revenue to recoup the operating cost of its parking supply and also assists in the enforcement of restrictions.
"While paid on-street parking may be an effective management tool in busy town centres or shopping strips, in other contexts, other tools may be more suitable.
"Free parking can stimulate unnecessary demand and lead to poor parking outcomes including long-term stays. This outcome should be avoided through time restrictions or paid parking."
Read the full parking strategy below
A 2016 study found that parking occupancy in the Horsham CBD didn't exceed 70 per cent at any time of the day.
Instead occupancy ranged between 45 to 65 per cent, which was considered "very low" for a CBD the size of Horsham.
What will the money be spent on next?
MS MURPHY said the council would use $842,500 from its reserve for its City to River activation strategy.
The council's draft City to River masterplan outlines a 20 year vision for Horsham city.
The council's 2019-20 Budget said works on the project would be undertaken in two areas - the central activity district to Wimmera River connection, and central riverfront.
"Central activity district to River connection works include re-prioritising junction at Firebrace Street and O'Callaghans Parade to enhance bike and pedestrian links to the river from the CAD; and enhancing streetscape by re-organising parking and drop off and creating strong visual link to river and city including signage," the document said.
"Central riverfront works include enhancing the riverfront as a 'destination' with over-water dining, event and market space; waterfront themed attraction; enhancing riverfront walkways; and an Indigenous culture interpretation, sculpture trail and art walk."
The reserve will also partly fund the street lighting and a $40,000 parking plan during 2019-20.
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