HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A costly commute is coming down the tracks on Long Island.
The proposed budget in Huntington includes a huge increase in parking costs and commuters are being forced to pick up the tab — again.
Commuters are getting over the sticker shock of learning the parking garage they pay $50 a year for may rise to $600, an increase of 1,200 percent.
“I think that’s way too much, way too much,” resident Cody Beck told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey on Tuesday.
“I think I’d start looking elsewhere to park. I wouldn’t even bother with this anymore,” said Nabil Masod of East Northport.
Huntington residents and commuters rallied before the Town Council on Tuesday night, fighting to keep their cash, CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“I think your $600 fee is completely ridiculous,” resident Ashley Handlin said.
“Twelve-hundred percent is excessive. I would suggest the town consider a gradual increase,” Mark Bossey added.
The 1,900-space garage is convenient and just steps away from the Long Island Rail Road, but it’s 20 years old and showing its age.
Huntington town bosses said the garage needs a $4 million renovation and that there’s really only one fair way to pay for it.
“It makes sense to have the people who use it to pay for part of the cost of those repairs rather than burden all town taxpayers,” Huntington public information officer A.J. Carter said.
The town said it doesn’t want to have to raise taxes and points to the annual parking costs in other areas such as Ronkonkoma, where the LIRR garage costs $648, while the one in Mineola charges $1,440 per year.
Still, some Huntington lawmakers hope to derail the increase.
“These taxpayers are getting killed with taxes, fees. It’s too much,” Councilman Mark Mayoka said.
When you consider the monthly LIRR pass to Penn Station is almost $300, another $50 a month is the last thing commuters want to consume.
“I’m shocked. A lot of people cannot afford that,” Huntington resident Balazs Dezo said.
For those who don’t want to cough up the cash, nearby surface lots will cost a more modest $75 a year.
Huntington leaders said the proposed hike is not a done deal. Commuters vow to continue fighting until the plan is derailed. If the parking fee hike is approved, it will raise $1 million in revenue next year.
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