PORTLAND – The Portland City Council on Monday voted 5-4 to raise hourly fees for two city-owned garages by 40 percent and increase the daily rate from $12 to $21.

The fee increase will raise $160,000 in revenue and help balance the city’s $162.5 million budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Effective on that date, the hourly rate to park at the Elm Street garage and the Spring Street garage will increase from $1.25 to $1.75.

Also on Monday, the City Council voted unanimously to approve the budget, which increases city spending over the current year by $4.5 million, or 2.2 percent.

The fee increase for city garages was the only remaining divisive budget issue.

Merchants had opposed the fee increase, arguing that it would discourage shoppers from visiting downtown.

Councilor John Anton in an interview after the vote said that the city has to some extent subsidized construction of four of the 15 parking garages in the city in order to assure that there is an adequate supply of parking downtown, although it only owns two outright. He said the city subsidy was not intended to assure motorists that they can pay less than market rate for parking at city-owned garages.

He noted all but one private garage will still charge more for parking than the two city garages. Private garages in the city charge on average $2.70 an hour. Also, Anton said, many merchants participate in a program in which their customers get free parking if they make a purchase.

Councilors Cheryl Leeman, Jill Duson, John Coyne and Nicholas Mavodones Jr. voted with Anton to support the fee increase.

Councilors David Marshall, Ed Suslovic, Kevin Donoghue and Mayor Michael Brennan opposed the fee increase. There was no debate.

The budget approved by the council on Monday, combined with the $94.2 million school budget that voters approved last week, will raise the city’s tax rate 2.9 percent. The tax rate will increased 54 cents, from $18.28 per $1,000 of value to $18.82.

For a home assessed at $200,000, taxes will increase by $108.

The story was revised at 10:02 on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 to add the name of Jill Duson to the list of councilors voting in favor of the fare increase.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

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Twitter: TomBellPortland