The publicly-owned Dyke Road car park may in future be policed by a barrier to maximise revenue to Galway City Council.
The revelation of a change in policy from pay and display to a barrier comes as the City Council confirmed income from parking charges was €400,000 less than had been budgeted for in 2017.
City Councillors have also been told that the entire network of pay and display machines in the city will be replaced by the end of 2018.
The substantial shortfall in parking revenue last year, confirmed by Edel McCormack, Head of Finance, was due to the delayed introduction of Sunday parking charges.
She explained that the 2017 Budget, brought in by the ruling pact (Fine Gael, Labour and Independents), was passed in November 2016 and included a provision to introduced Sunday parking charges.
“The budget was predicated on Sunday parking being introduced on January 1, 2017. Sunday parking was not introduced until late in 2017 and that led to the shortfall in that budget,” she said.
Chief Executive Brendan McGrath explained that due to signage and so on, it was not possible to introduce Sunday parking until later in 2017.
He said the Council was contemplating introducing a barrier system at the entrance to Dyke Road car park because he was “amazed by the generosity” of motorists who were transferring their tickets to other motorists when they were finished. This was losing the Council revenue.
City Councillor Padraig Conneely suggested Council staff were availing of free parking at weekends, while others had to pay. “The biggest free car park in the city is here in City Hall. It’s packed with cars on Saturday and Sunday and they don’t pay a penny,” he said.
Mr McGrath said that 20 pay and display machines were replaced last year. The remainder, which have been out of action for some time, will be fully replaced this year.
He and Ms McCormack both confirmed a budget of €736,000 was set aside in 2017 to pay for new parking machines this year.
Mr McGrath said pay and display ticket machines ordinarily have a life expectancy of three to five years and yet some of the machines in Galway hadn’t been replaced since 2002. He acknowledged revenue was lost due to faulty machines but he said the City Council was not in a financial position to replace the machines during the recession.