With its current policy facing a $60,000 shortfall, Medford is revamping parking in the downtown area, to include higher parking ticket fines and a push to get drivers to use parking garages.

With its current policy facing a $60,000 shortfall, Medford is revamping parking in the downtown area, to include higher parking ticket fines and a push to get drivers to use parking garages.

The Medford City Council voted Thursday to adopt a new plan that is designed to break even in the future, said Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke.

Hoke said the city is four months away from eating up the reserves set aside in the parking fund.

The plan increases parking citations from $15 to $25, but also bumps the time to pay the fine from 10 to 30 days.

Those who receive fines can have them switched to a voucher for one month parking in either the Middleford and Evergreen parking garages downtown. You will be able to park in the garages for free for three hours per day.

Parking on the roofs of these garages will be $10 per month. The cost to park inside the garages will be $25 per month.

The plan will keep one hour of free parking in the Medford library lot and free 30 minute on-street parking near the post office.

The city sent out 300 invitations to downtown businesses and held eight meeting to gauge public support over the past two years.

The council made a few changes to the recommended plan, allowing businesses to vouch for parking should a customer receive a ticket while shopping downtown.

This will most likely be phased out in a few months as people become accustomed to the new rules.

Councilman Bob Strosser said a major hurdle facing downtown is convincing people to use the large parking garages to free up space.

Hoke said he has received complaints from people who feel uncomfortable using the garages after the sun goes down.

"We are currently working to deal with the lighting issue," Hoke said.

Strosser said it remains impossible to fashion a perfect parking plan.

"We are trying to find the path that is the least painful for most people," he said.

The Council voted to cut a proposed pay-and-go parking machine that was set for the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theatre. The machine had a ticket price of $10,000.

The plan also calls for improved signing in the downtown area. Hoke received several complaints that the current signing is confusing and leads to many people receiving parking tickets.

Hoke said he hopes the plan will be instituted by September.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.