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Detroit makes millions from parking meters, but it can't afford to power them

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Sometimes you need to spend money to make money, but that's easier said than done when there isn't much money to spend in the first place. Detroit, which last year became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy, is missing out on potentially millions in revenue because just about half of its 3,404 parking meters are out of service, according to city officials. It's estimated that the city could get an extra $6 million in revenue just by getting the rest of the meters in working condition.

Fortunately, it shouldn't be too difficult to fix the broken meters. The Detroit News reports that most of the meter issues come from small cutbacks in maintenance costs that are ultimately counterproductive. As part of efforts to reduce city spending, the Duracell batteries that power the meters were swapped out with off-brand units. The cheaper batteries apparently can't hold a charge as long as the Duracells, which maintenance workers used to swap out twice per year — once in the summer and once in the winter. Of course, maintenence crews still replace the batteries on the same schedule even though the new batteries can't hold up, so meters stop working and the city stops getting paid.

To make matters worse, the old locks used to secure the batteries easily seize up from water or grime, leaving even more meters out of service. According to The Detroit News, the city delayed upgrading the locks to new brass cylinders as its budget tightened — and now it's paying the price.