BRECKENRIDGE - Revenues from parking fees are on the rise in Breckenridge with the use of new, more advanced technology credited with improving parking enforcement and efficiency in town.
A series of solar-powered pay kiosks along with an automated license plate reader system have amped up parking rule enforcement in Breck over the last year.
Following last year's launch of the license plate reader system - technology that can recognize when a vehicle has violated the three-hour parking limit - the number of parking tickets issued in Breckenridge increased 38 percent.
The police department also reported a 78 percent increase in the number of three-hour parking warnings issued in town from 2011 to 2012.
Before the system was implemented last year, community service officers frequently walked upwards of six miles per day around town using chalk to mark vehicles, and were generally only able to conduct parking time-limit checks twice daily.
The majority of free parking spaces in Breckenridge are subject to a three-hour time limit, intended to ensure new spots regularly open up for shoppers and diners, town officials have said.
The system has also been able to spot stolen, missing or suspect vehicles parked on Breckenridge streets by their license plate numbers, which had been entered into the program's "hotlist."
The license plate reader system went active a few months before the new payment kiosks were installed. The 13 pay-and-display machines, located at various pay-parking lots around town, process credit cards in real time, increasing revenues once lost when cards declined, officials with the Breckenridge Police Department said.
"Our new pay-parking machines have really been an improvement," police chief Shannon Haynes said. "We haven't had any machine failures and we've seen an increase in revenue data and reporting. Those have just been a complete turnaround for the parking program."
The new machines are also easier for customers to use and designed to function in sub-zero temperatures. Although powered by solar energy, the machines passed the cold weather test in Breckenridge earlier this month, when temperatures fell to -20 and the machines reportedly continued to operate without problems.
The older pay kiosks, replaced in November, were falling into disrepair, Breckenridge officials said.
Parking is an ongoing topic of debate in Breck, with lots and street spaces frequently approaching capacity on busy winter weekends.
The Breckenridge Town Council has added the issue to its list of top priorities for 2013, commissioning staffers to do an analysis of the town's current parking system to determine whether the existing lots are the best use of land.
But town leaders have been vague on possible solutions and this summer face the loss of 17 existing parking spaces from the Tiger Dredge Lot with the construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of Four O'Clock Road and Park Avenue.
Members of the town council say the town's parking problems are still on the radar and that the town is considering possible locations for new parking reserves.
"That little Exchange parking garage is a really nice neighborhood parking solution, and we've been looking hard at whether or not there's a couple of other places around town to have a similar solution," Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said. "It's musical chairs on the parking. It's a big puzzle."
Wolfe said she hopes to see any parking places lost replaced elsewhere as the town develops.