The fine for an expired parking meter will more than double in Portsmouth under a proposal approved this week by the city council.

Councilors voted 6 to 3 Monday night to authorize a $35 fee for staying in a parking space after the meter expires, up from the current $15 fine.

Parking enforcement officials are now authorized to begin issuing the higher fines.

The measure was supported by Portsmouth’s Parking and Traffic Safety Committee, which has recognized that the $15 ticket fine often costs less than paying to park for more than four hours. On-street parking rates vary, but can cost as much as $5 an hour.

Parking is an ongoing challenge in Portsmouth, which experienced tremendous growth downtown in recent years. Those changes are made worse during the summer months when tourists flock to the city, and workers from across the region drive into town to work at shops and restaurants.

Supporters of the proposal argue it will create much-needed parking turnover, helping to ensure visitors can get to restaurants and businesses. They also believe the threat of higher fines could direct longer-term parking into the Foundry Place Garage west of downtown, where parking costs $1 an hour.

Opponents, of which Mayor Rick Becksted is one, say the fine structure should not be revised during the pandemic that has hurt many businesses.

Others who voted against the measure were Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine and Councilor Deaglan McEachern.

The proposal before councilors this week dealt solely with expired parking meters. However, some councilors have expressed interest in exploring changes to fines for other infractions.

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

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