Downtown Toms River, near the township's municipal building. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Downtown Toms River, near the township’s municipal building. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Visitors to Toms River town hall and the downtown area will have to reach farther into their pockets to park.

The recent decision by the township council affects both the municipal parking deck as well as on-street parking spaces.

Under the ordinance adopted by the council, metered spaces on downtown streets will rise from 25 to 50 cents per hour for the first two hours of parking. For the third hour and beyond, rates will vary, officials said. Parking fees on the top level of the municipal parking deck – located behind the municipal building – will rise from 25 cents to 75 cents per hour.

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The fee hike is “due to the high volume and high demand for that particular level,” said Pamela Piner, executive director of the Toms River Parking Authority.

On the plus side, fees will end an hour earlier, at 5 p.m., rather than the current 6 p.m.

The fee hike is the first increase since 1993, officials said. Piner added that the increase will help fund the conversion of downtown parking meters from coin-operated machines to modern devices that will accept debit and credit cards in addition to quarters. The conversion is expected to cost $250,000.

“When you reach that mark, do they go back to the original [rate]?” asked Bill McPhail.

“With the current technology that is being required to put in place, there are constant fees for that technology,” replied Piner, explaining that the fees will stay in place indefinitely. “Those expenses have continued to increase … however we have not increased the rates.”