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Hike Sought in Westport Rail Parking Fees

A proposed $175 increase for permit parking at Westport’s train stations won’t cause Steve Carl to give up his permit.

"I need the train pass," says Carl, a Westport resident who commutes daily to New York. "It is a pretty hefty increase percentage wise, though."

Having a permit is a necessity for fellow Westport commuter Pat Foley also. "It's not really a choice," he says.

If approved, the $175 increase would bring the annual permit price to $400. But permit holders won't be the only ones feeling the pinch. The Westport Police Department, which oversees railroad parking at both Westport stations, is proposing a $1 increase for daily parking, which would bring that fee to $5 a day.

Deputy Police Chief Dale Call says the fee increases are being proposed because expenses have outweighed revenue.

"We were told by the Finance Department late last month that there needed to be an increase in the parking fees," Call says. "The reason for the increase is that the operating costs for the [railroad parking] division have risen while revenue actually declined from 2007 through 2010."

Call says the decline can mostly be attributed to fewer permits being sold and less daily parking revenue.

Outside of personnel costs, expenses in the railroad parking budget include parking lot maintenance, like snow removal, which generally costs around $125,000, Call says. This year, he says, snow removal costs totaled more than $200,000. Another major expense is the cost of electricity for all the parking lot lights.

The Board of Selectmen will vote on the proposed increases Wednesday at 4 p.m. If approved, they will be the first parking fee increases since 2004, Call says. He added that they would bring Westport's fees closer in line with those in surrounding towns.

Would you still pay for a train station parking permit if it cost $400?

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