AUBURN — A plan to increase parking fees and shift uses at some city lots passed its first hurdle Monday.

Councilors voted unanimously Monday to approve changes to the city’s parking management plan.

The ordinance would increase monthly parking permits downtown from $35 to $45 and put the Auburn Police Department in charge of managing the city’s downtown parking, from controlling the lots to selling parking permits. Permits were once available during regular business hours at the city treasurer’s office in Auburn Hall, but they’ll now be sold at the Police Department’s window in Auburn Hall’s basement.

Councilors will see the changes again at their next meeting. Police Chief Phil Crowell said the city could start charging the new fees in October if councilors approve.

Auburn has 1,296 spaces — 260 are privately owned and 1,036 are city owned. Those are leased to businesses, sold as parking permits, used for police and city vehicles or as open public parking.

The plan calls for shifting some of the parking uses around, especially in Great Falls Plaza.

For example, the lot at the northern edge of the plaza is reserved for guest parking for Hilton Garden Inn functions. That lot would now become open for free two-hour parking and for people purchasing day passes. Hilton’s function parking would move closer to the hotel, across from the Esplanade apartments.

The next steps for councilors to discuss would be creating gated parking lots with pay kiosks, as well as deciding if the city should offer cheaper parking for more remote lots. Councilors said they also wanted to wait to make changes to the parking permitted in the Mechanics Row parking garage.

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