Scranton, Lackawanna County - It was standing room only inside Scranton city council chambers Thursday night during a public caucus on proposed changes to the city's parking meters.
City council invited members from the private firm Standard Parking to explain the changes they want to make to the current parking meter system in the city.
Spokesman Roamy Valera spoke on behalf of Standard Parking for most of the meeting.
He says his company is working in at least 150 other cities and 150 airports at this time.
Scranton city council is exploring the option of increase the hours and days that its parking meters are enforced with Standard Parking.
Right now, meters are enforced between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM, Monday thru Friday.
That could change from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily and also add Saturday enforcement.
Council is also considering increasing the rates for some meters from the current rate of $1.00/hour to $1.50/hour.
At the public caucus, Standard Parking officials told city council it plans to install 750 new parking meters that accept credit cards to increase enforcement.
Many business owners are not happy with the idea.
Many have been having customers sign petitions against the parking changes.
On Thursday morning, dozens of business owners had a meeting with Standard Parking officials.
Business owners expressed concern that all the changes could drive customers from the city.
"We are the heart and soul of this city. If all the businesses go out then we just have another dead city," Tom Sheakoski with Pizza by Pappas said.
Laura Alexiou runs Steamtown Yoga on Moosic Street. She is looking to move her business into downtown Scranton but says if the parking changes are approved that could change.
"We have a good crowd. We have a good loyal crowd and when we do make a move we want to be able to say we're going somewhere that isn't going to penalize them," Alexiou said.
Standard Parking officials say most of the city's meters are out of date. They date back to the 1980s.
They showed off the new meter that would accept credit cards.
"Our request today here was to ask for a seat at the table," Valera said. "The intent really is to be a true partnership. The city has a real interest to make sure that this works."
City leaders say they need the parking changes to bring in more more but some critics challenge the projections given.
"The January revenue is already lower than it was last January so it really calls into question that $2.8 million that they're looking for," financial consultant Gary Lewis said.