Sometimes I'm slow in coming up with good responses to intelligent questions. Such was the case of the metering of the Plattekill Avenue parking lot.
I told Terry Dungan that I didn't like the idea of metering the lot, because the stated objective was to open up more parking downtown, but the means was just a way to increase revenue for the Village. I don't believe governments should use taxation and fees as a means of behavior modification - if you want us to do something differently, just make a law telling us what's what instead of hiding it behind a way to charge us more money.
Terry explained to me that to regulate the parking entirely with enforcement would be impossible, as the officer wouldn't have any way to keep track of who was parked where, and for how long. Chalking isn't really viable, and just walking around noting down plate numbers would take forever.
However, we've got that fancy new meter on the lot now, and I don't know why it needs to charge money in order to work. If it were set to free, it would still be able to allow people to type in their plate number, and it still would be able to print out a report for a parking enforcement officer of what spaces should be empty. It still could deny people the right to enter the same plate number for the same spot for two consecutive periods, and presumably it could still help the officer identify scammers who just lie about their plate numbers in order to park for a longer period of time.
If we were to take Jason's idea of building a hidden parking garage, the money would make more sense because it would be to pay for the building, but given that the Thruway was paid off in 1986 but still has tolls in 2009, I don't trust my politicians not to pull the same kind of shenanigans.
Therefore, I have to assume that the Village Board really wants the money, and doesn't have the nerve to just ask the citizens for it. Fees hidden in behavior modification are among some of the most offensive of governmental bait-and-switch tactics. If you don't want us parking, the technology exists to deter that behavior without charging us more money. If you want more money, the legal mechanisms exist to honestly and open raise taxes without hiding it in parking fees. It sure would be nice to separate the two so that we could transparently look at these unrelated issues.