Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - There may be some changes coming to Rochester’s free parking program.

The popular program has been in effect for years and is viewed favorably by businesses as a way to get more customers to visit the downtown. The program allows motorists to park free for one hour at downtown ramps during regular hours. Free parking is also offered during evenings and weekends.

The Public Works Department is considering asking the City Council to review the program next year. The department says nearly half of the vehicles that park in the downtown ramps take advantage of the free program. Also being looked at are higher hourly rates and an event fee.

The proposals are being driven by a need to address growing construction and maintenance costs. The city’s parking program is operated as an enterprise fund with revenues used to cover the cost of new facilities and operating expenses. In recent years, annual expenses have totaled $500,000. The department’s proposed 2017-2021 capital program calls for expenditures of $40-million - or $8-million per year.