Mayor Brown proposes to reduce parking meter rates in Wilkes-Barre, pardon emergency loans to small businesses

WILKES -BARRE – The cost of the city’s metro could be less than the cost soon if Mayor George Brown goes.

During his “City State” address Friday on the city’s Facebook page Brown said he wanted to reduce the hourly rate by half to $ 1.

Brown said he will ask the City Council to approve the reduction.

“I, like many residents and business owners, believe that rates were set too high under the previous administration,” Brown said.

Businesses in the town are operating at full capacity in lifting most of the restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, businesses are beginning to put their employees back to work, Brown offered as reasons for the cuts.

“My goal is to have a downtown that has parking meter rates that are fair and reasonable and helps help businesses in the town thrive again. I believe lowering meter rates is a necessary step in achieving the goal. that, ”Brown said.

Brown’s predecessor Mayor Tony George has doubled the hourly rate to $ 2 in his 2018 budget. But the higher rate never came close to producing a budgeted annual revenue of $ 1 million. George cut the revenue projection to $ 750,000 in 2019 and it remained at that level in Brown’s 2020 budget.

In this year’s budget, Brown even cut the expected $ 725,000. The draft financial report for the first quarter ending March 31 of this year showed the meters generated $ 65,067 in revenue or approximately 9% of annual budgeted revenue.

Small businesses and restaurants in the city that participate in the short-term, interest-free loan program created by the Brown administration to help them during the pandemic will get an extra break.

Last year Brown extended the payment deadline to 2022. But Friday he deleted it altogether.

“I am pleased to announce that these loans will be forgiven as additional assistance for these businesses as they work to stay viable,” Brown said.

Brown and his administration, with permission from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, redirected approximately $ 373,000 to a long dormant account to help local businesses that forced to close or reduce due to pandemic restrictions.

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