Revenue from parking fines in the ACT has fallen short by more than $10 million, as the ramifications of the Covid pandemic continue to be felt in the way people travel across the capital.
The shortfall comes as territory officials continue work on a wide-ranging review of parking arrangements across Canberra. The review will include surveys and analysis of data collected through parking machines, along with traffic modelling and an assessment of current parking fees.
"The review will ultimately seek to balance parking requirements with broader planning, transport and climate change objectives. The review is expected to be completed over the next 12 to 18 months," an ACT government spokesman said.
The spokesman said the changes to demand for parking across Canberra due to the Covid public health emergency would be an important component considered by the review.
The latest snapshot of the ACT's financial position revealed lower than expected revenue of $10.8 million from parking fines and infringements offset an otherwise stronger bottom line in the nine months to March 31.
But a targeted effort to increase revenue from parking fines or raising parking fees is not part of immediate plans to recover the loss in revenue.
"Parking fees increase annually in line with the wage price index. There was no increase for 2020-21 financial year for parking fees to assist with the economic response to the COVID-19 public health emergency," the ACT government spokesman said.
"The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a lower revenue related to parking and associated infringements in 2020. The ACT government is not seeking to recover any possible shortfall through the increase of fees or fines."
The spokesman said parking inspectors focused patrols in areas where there were reports of "pedestrian and vehicular safety and business amenity concerns".
"The objective of our parking compliance activities are to ensure a safe and liveable city," he said.
The ACT government moved to allow a 10-minute grace period on parking fines in August last year in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Police Minister Mick Gentleman said at the time parking inspectors were focusing on compliance around safety issues rather than people overstaying their allocated time during the Covid crisis.
"There is a reduced enforcement focus on non-payment of parking fees and overstays of time limits, in effect providing increased grace to motorists parking during this period," Mr Gentleman said in a letter to Speaker Joy Burch.
The ACT government owned more off-street car parks at the end of 2020 than it did four years before, answers to questions on notice in the ACT parliament showed this week.
At the end of 2020, Transport Canberra and City Services owned 536 off-street carparks, compared to 497 at the end of 2016.
The ACT government may also keep more 15-minute car parking spaces near food venues, which were installed as part of Covid recovery measures to facilitate easier pick up of take-away food.
"TCCS will consult with affected businesses prior to removing the temporary restrictions to determine if some 15-minute parking may be required in the longer term," City Services Minister Chris Steel said in reply to a question on notice.
The territory budget was boosted despite the parking shortfall from better-than-expected stamp duty revenue, figures from Treasury show.
The government's quarterly financial report for March showed close to $4.5 billion of revenue for the ACT government was raised in the nine months, more than $41 million higher than budget forecasts but there is a deficit of $367 million.
Treasury attributed the revenue increase to the housing market performing better than expected, while higher than anticipated investment revenue also contributed to the rise.
"Higher than expected taxation revenue ... associated with strong conveyance activity, including transaction volumes and prices across many segments of the market than expected at budget," the March quarter 2021 report said.
"This reflects low interest rates and rising confidence in Australia's ability to contain COVID-19 outbreaks."
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