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(City of Phoenix Photo)

PHOENIX -- As city council members discuss changes to parking meter rates and hours, the Phoenix Street Transportation Department is gathering public input.

Commuters, residents and business leaders are asked to give their two cents about a variable pricing plan for parking.

Currently, it costs $1.50 per hour for metered parking in downtown Phoenix, but leaders are considering changing rates based on demand. During slow periods, the rate could be as low as 50 cents per hour, while busier periods could cost $6 per hour.

Council members are also considering extending enforcement hours to include weeknights and weekends. According to Acting Street Transportation Director Ray Dovalina, their research shows Phoenix has the shortest enforcement hours among big cities and the $1.50 hourly rate is also on the low end.

According to a city council report, the Street Transportation Department collected about $1.65 million in parking meter payments during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, resulting in $1 million in net revenue. Based on preliminary estimates, the department thinks a variable rate plan and longer enforcement could generate an extra $1 to $2 million per year.

Expansion would require as many as 640 new meters that could accept credit cards and adjust to rate changes, four new workers to enforce longer hours and one manager to oversee the program.

On Wednesday, two open houses will take place:

11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Arizona Commerce Authority, First Floor Reception Room, 333 N. Central Ave.

2 - 4 p.m. at Downtown Phoenix Ambassador's Office, First Floor, 101 N. First Ave.

Christina Estes, Reporter

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