By Danny Schrafel
A delayed rollout of the town’s new multi-meter parking system and technical glitches has resulted in the Town of Huntington coming up $1.6 million short of revenue projections, town officials have confirmed.
The town had budgeted for $3,053,000 in parking meter and ticket revenue in 2014, but is only expected to bring in $1.2 million, according to budgets.
The big difference between anticipated and projected revenues appears in Supervisor Frank Petrone’s 2015 budget proposal. The town tapped $1.6 million from a $7,687,468 general fund reserve to close the gap, which represents more than half of the general fund balance used for the year. The town also applied $500,000 to the 2014 budget and allocated $600,000 in legal fees related to the LIPA tax certiorari; the reserves are expected to be about 42 percent smaller by year’s end, or $4,454,285.
After introducing his proposed 2015 budget last month, Petrone said that efforts are underway to develop a retirement incentive for town employees; savings accrued from that program would be used to replenish the town reserve funds.
While town officials initially forecast $1.8 million in revenue to be generated by the new multi-meter system and increased parking rates of $1 an hour for prime parking and 50 cents per hour elsewhere, the town is expected to come up $1.2 million short, with projected year-end revenue estimated at $600,000. Anticipated 2015 revenues are $850,000.
Town spokesman A.J. Carter said that the loftier revenue projections on parking fees came because a new multi-meter system was expected to go live by the first of the year.
“The  budget had both going into effect Jan. 1 but because of technical issues, the installation of the multi-meters was delayed until the end of April,” Carter said.
And until the meters went live, the parking rates remained at a quarter per hour, regardless of location, throughout Huntington village and in other metered areas.
The parking meter and fee overhaul stemmed from a recommendation in the Huntington Village Parking Study, funded by the town, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, the Huntington Village BID, the Town Economic Development Corp. and The Paramount, which provided the town board with recommendations from the Nelson/Nygaard consulting firm as to how to resolve parking congestion and a lack of access to parking in the downtown village.
Similarly, on the parking violations revenue line, the town is expected to be about $653,000 off after having budgeted $1,253,000 in revenue for the year. However, the town is anticipating $1.25 million in parking fine revenues in 2015.
Changing the vendor which the town uses to print and write parking tickets also posed problems, Carter said.
“There were some logistical difficulties in getting the old vendor to transfer data to the new vendor, and some other technical issues in getting the new handhelds to communicate with the multi-meters,” he said.