Warrnambool motorists delivered a surprise bonus to the city council's coffers, paying higher than expected parking fines and fees last financial year.
The council has also had to folk out $21,000 to install two new parking meters as the city rolls out its new free parking plan in the CBD.
Motorists were stung $526,000 in fines last financial year - more than $100,000 above what the council had budgeted for.
But next year the council is forecasting fines from parking to soar to a new high of $681,000.
Despite the higher-than expected windfall for the council, this year's $526,000 in fines was still lower than the $555,000 the council collected in 2020 - a financial year in which the city spent four months under strict pandemic lockdowns and restrictions and waived parking fees.
"Parking fees were also higher due to poor compliance with the regulations and the budgeted expectation that activity within the CBD would be lower due to COVID19," the council noted in its annual report.
Because of uncertainty around the pandemic lockdowns, the council made conservative assumptions around the timing and frequency of lockdowns and the impact it would have on user fees.
But the numbers turned out to be more positive for the council with parking fees higher than expected, bringing in $192,000.
Revenue from parking fines has slowly been rising with fines in 2018 just $443,000 before jumping to $641,000 in 2019.
The council is forecasting fines from parking to soar to a new high of $681,000.
In June, councillors voted through parking changes as part of the city budget which has seen the rollout of its new free one-hour parking in three off-street car parks.
While motorists were given an hour of free parking at any time of the day in the Parkers, Ozone and Crammond and Dickson parks, fees went up as a trade-off.
But councillors Max Taylor and Richard Ziegeler say they will continue lobbying to rid the CBD of parking meters altogether.
In conjunction with the changeover, two new parking meters were installed - one in the centre of Fairy Street and the other in Parker's car park - at a cost of $21,000.
To reprogram the parking meters to cater for free parking, each zone required a dedicated meter, the council said.
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"Fairy Street has a combination of all day and two-hour parking so two meters were required. Similarly, Parkers Car Park offers all-day and two-hour parking so two meters were required," the council said.
At the recent council meeting, Cr Ben Blain queried why Fairy Street needed three parking meters in such close proximity. "There, meters needed to be reconfigured," infrastructure director David Leahy said.
"There's a mix of two-hour parking and all-day parking in Fairy Street in that section, and so it meant that we were without and all-day meter in that area without someone having to walk considerable distance to get an all-day meter," he said.
"None of the meters have all of the various zones displayed on them now."
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