Inside the parking pay stations in Downtown Syracuse is a wireless data connection which allows you to use a credit card to pay for parking. But come November that connection will go dead in all 270 pay stations and it's created a multi-million dollar problem for the city.
After Rita Candon parked her car in Downtown Syracuse she expressed her frustration that taxpayers would have to cover the cost to replace 7-year-old meters. "In this economy, to spend that kind of money when something is functioning already. I don't think it makes sense," said Candon. "Can we use our common sense here?"
The city bought the meters from a company called Parkeon seven years ago. The mayor's office says it could not have predicted the wireless connection, provided by a separate company, would expire. Meantime, Parkeon's solution is to sell the city brand new meters for $2.4 million.
"Naturally we're disappointed but we've had a very good relationship with Parkeon. It has worked well so we thought they were being upfront, candid and explaining what our options are," says Bill Ryan, the chief of staff for Mayor Stephanie Miner.
The city did get quotes from other companies but they were all more expensive.
Several people in Downtown Syracuse on Thursday said they're confused about why something that seems to be working just fine needs to be replaced.
" I think it's ridiculous they're going to replace something they think may or may not be outdated for a cost of $2 million. I don't think the city can justify that," said Janice Sebring after she parked her car.
"It's unfortunate that the cell towers and these will no longer communicate come November but that's something we don't have control over. We have to act on things we have control over," says Ryan.
The mayor's office will ask city lawmakers to sign off on a plan to buy new meters Monday and issue bonds to pay for it to allow downtown drivers to continue to pay with credit cards. If nothing changes the meters would only accept coins come November.