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Parking rates at downtown public garages will remain unchanged until a least July following a decision by the city's Parking Board.

Parking Director Thomas A. Gallagher said today the board turned down a proposal to raise daily and monthly rates because it would have harmed the downtown office market.

"There is an abundance of office space in downtown Buffalo, and the city is attempting to market that," Gallagher said. "A rate increase would be the wrong signal to send people."

Last week, Gallagher told a Common Council committee that the Parking Board was planning to raise its daily rates by 50 cents and monthly rates by $9 at most board-operated downtown parking garages and surface lots.

The proposed fee plan called for reducing the daily rate at the Main Place Mall underground garage from $7.50 to $6.50. The board decided to leave that rate unchanged, Gallagher said.

The Council also is being asked to allow the parking board to open two surface lots on vacant properties adjacent to the Fernbach parking garage and Pearl and Niagara streets. It is still reviewing that request.

At the time, Gallagher said the moves were needed to help pay for the Eagle Street ramp now under construction. The Parking Board has lost revenues from the 600-car garage that was torn down and must begin repaying bonds before the new, 1,200-car garage is operational in November 1991.

Gallagher said the board will use some of its $2.9 million maintenance reserve fund and reduce operating expenses to cover the added costs. A recently concluded $42 million rebuilding program has probably reduced the demand on the maintenance fund, he said.

Gallagher said the board is not expected to take up the issue of raising parking fees until the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

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