The city of Detroit has over 3,400 parking meters. If they were all functional, it's estimated they could bring in an additional $6 million per year in revenue. That's money the city could desperately use. Instead, only about half are working, a spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr told The Detroit News. The reasons for this are alarmingly easy to fix.
First, as part of the city's austerity measures, it switched to a cheaper, lower-quality battery. According to The News, BatteryJunction.com claims the current batteries being used by the city are nearly three dollars cheaper than the Duracell CopperTop nine-volts the city used before it went bust.
According to an anonymous meter attendant, the Duracells were swapped out every summer and winter. These new batteries, though, are dead well before attendants can get there with replacements. So yes, money is being saved somewhere, but revenue isn't being realized elsewhere.
Even simply changing the batteries requires a fight. The cylinder locks that house the batteries and other internals are prone to seizing when they meet water or dirt. Because maintenance budgets have been trimmed, the locks aren't replaced as often as they should be, which in turn damages the cylinder keys. This in turn exacerbates the battery issue, costing the city more money, due to its attempts at saving funds from maintenance. It really is a vicious cycle.
Of course the solution is rather simple – spend money to make money. For Detroiters, though, how do you do that when there's simply no money left to spend?