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Falls wants to hike rates at city lots, ramp Councilman wants fees to match those at parks

City Councilman Sam Fruscione wants to double fees charged at the city's parking lots and ramp during the summer to match New York State Park's $10-per-day fee, a move the mayor says might provide some relief for city taxpayers. .

"Most of the residents are parking in the casino ramp when they go to the casino," said Fruscione. "This one is more directed to tourists . . . The residents have already been overtapped."

Fruscione's resolution -- on the agenda for Tuesday's City Council meeting -- would increase rates from $5 to $10 at the city's four surface lots and the ramp on Rainbow Boulevard South. The rates would take effect the Friday before Memorial Day and end on Labor Day.

While City Controller Maria Brown said she could not estimate how much additional revenue could be realized, it will require a lot for the city parking venues to begin to realize a surplus.

The 400-space surface lot on Niagara Street, along with the other downtown lots, realized a $77,000 surplus in 2005.

However, the city still owes about $4.5 million from the project to demolish the former 26-year-old Rainbow Ramp I -- where the new Niagara Street lot now stands -- and the remaining cost from when Rainbow Ramp II was built on Rainbow Avenue South. That ramp has shown a decline in revenues over the past few years, and residents and visitors have called it dilapidated.

The city transferred $671,000 from its general fund to the parking ramp account in 2005 in order to meet expenses, according to Brown. .

The Niagara Street lot is three blocks from the state park's downtown lot, which is often full during summer weekends. The state lots on Goat Island charge $8 in the summer, and are free during the rest of the year.

Fruscione believes he has the votes to pass the hike.

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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