Tucsonans might be shelling out more to park at downtown meters and city-operated garages in the near future.

Parkwise Director Donovan Durband told the City Council Tuesday afternoon that changes are necessary to balance the budget and upgrade Parkwise equipment.

He wants some downtown meter rates to double from 50 cents to $1 an hour and extend the hours and days of meter operation.

For garages, Durband said rates should be aligned with what other garages charge. As an example, Durband used the University of Arizona-owned garages. Those garages, he said, charge $2 the first hour and $1 to $2 for each additional hour.

Durband said there's nothing severe about the increases since Tucson is one of the cheapest places to park compared with other cities across the country.

Parkwise is $100,000 in the red this year, most of which - $90,000 - can be attributed to streetcar construction taking around 270 meters out of commission, Durband said.

Even when the streetcar is finished, Parkwise will still be down dozens of meters.

To compensate for this loss, Durband said, they are looking at placing meters on side streets near Broadway downtown.

Parkwise is also considering placing meters along Fourth Avenue next year.

"In a growing downtown, there's really no reason why we have a busy commercial area that we would keep free on-street parking," Durband said.

Fourth Avenue businesses would benefit, he said, since it would dissuade employees from parking in front of shops and bars, which would open up parking spots for customers.

Durband said it's also an important first step toward conditioning residents to the idea that parking isn't free, and to encourage people living in the vicinity of downtown to consider abandoning their cars for public transportation.

"We got a very small downtown ... and space is valuable. There are other uses that we can use for real estate other than parking," Durband said. "We need to find ways to encourage people ... to not have two cars, in some cases not have any cars. Let's rely on people using the streetcar and so forth."

Other proposed changes would expand Parkwise's primary enforcement area to include the entire city, not just downtown and the neighborhoods surrounding the UA; amend the city parking code; increase enforcement; and improve parking signage so people are clear on where they can park.

Parkwise will present its final recommendations for the council to vote on sometime this spring.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com