Craven County Commissioners acknowledge downtown parking issues near Tax Department

The Craven County Tax Department, located at 226 Pollock Street in New Bern.

Changes to New Bern’s downtown parking may have caused some unexpected confusion for county residents trying to pay their property taxes this year. 

During the Jan. 2 meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Chairman Jason Jones said he had received “a lot of calls” over the last two weeks from people who said they have had trouble finding parking when attempting to access the Craven County Tax Department, located at 226 Pollock Street in downtown New Bern. 

“Folks are asking me why is there no parking there,” Jones said.

County Manager Jack Veit said the problem has been caused in part because of changes to the parking lot beside the Tax Department at the corner of Craven and Pollock streets across from City Hall.

Though the county formerly leased 12 parking spaces in the lot, in September the New Bern Board of Aldermen voted to approve an ordinance amending its off-street parking ordinance. Under the change, the parking lot on Pollock Street converted from leased spaces to a daily pay as you go option for drivers. Citizens and visitors who choose to use the Pollock Street lot are now charged $1.00 per hour for parking plus a transaction fee of .45 cents per transaction. All day parking rates are capped at $8. 

Payment can be made using the ParkMobile parking app and then following instructions on signage placed around the lot. Payment can also be made by scanning a QR code or calling or texting a number to receive instructions.

“Those spots that we traditionally leased were where we put our employees so we had spots on the tax office side,” Veit said. “So now not only have we lost the 12 but we’ve moved some of the county cars to the Sudan building (on Broad Street). But on days like when you’re there (to pay taxes) there’s just not going to be any parking.”

The Pollock Street parking lot beside the Craven County Tax Department.

Commissioner Beatrice Smith said she had a problem when she went to pay her property taxes this year.

“The first day I didn’t see any parking spaces and so I just drove away. The second day I found no parking spaces on the street or in the parking lot,” Smith said.

Commissioner Shevel “Sherry” Hunt said she had recently spoken with a Harlow resident who received a $25 ticket after trying to find parking to go into the Tax Department.

“For folks out in the rural part of the county, some of them don’t come downtown but once a year…It’s not as easy for some across the county as it is for those that are accustomed to it every day,” Jones commented. 

Jones said next year he would like to work on a plan with the city for the last three weeks of property tax season “seeing if we can work out something about opening up some spaces.”

“All this year happened this year on the spur of the moment. We didn’t think about it probably as we should have to have those discussions. I’m just saying maybe we could have those discussions looking at next tax season,” Jones commented. 

Commissioner Dennis Bucher acknowledged that the new parking arrangement near the Tax Department had caused some confusion.

“I think the problem is it’s the challenge to know how to do it. Because when you pull in, there’s a sign there and you have to read the sign and then go online, and not everybody is comfortable or competent at doing that. I think that’s the issue,” he said. 

By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.