Main Street lined with parked cars could mean that shoppers are checking out what's available in local stores, perhaps making a purchase or two, benefiting both the merchant who makes the sale and the city, which receives a portion of the sales tax.

Or it could mean that employees are taking advantage of the convenient spaces.

Parking spots equal customers to retail businesses, Gary Skaggs reminded fellow city commissioners at a meeting earlier this year.

That fact was reinforced in 2011, when parking in front of stores was not available for several weeks while Main Street was torn out and replaced.

At the March 18 meeting of the City Commission, Police Chief Gary Myers reported being asked by one business owner if a limited-time parking space could be established in front of her store, and by another manager about signs designating some spaces as for customers of that business only.

There are currently six 15-minute parking signs downtown, Myers said, and while enforcement is difficult without an officer designated for the job, most people are compliant.

Commissioner Jeff Taylor said that reminders from the Chamber of Commerce asking owners to keep parking spaces available for customers "help for a while."

"It's an age-old problem," Skaggs said, "Is there a solution? Yeah, more parking spaces."

The solution to that problem — where to find the spaces — was not identified.

Skaggs also noted the number of service-oriented businesses on Main Street, which are less dependent than retail upon walk-in traffic. Those property owners, however, pay taxes and feel they have a right to the convenient parking spaces.

"I think they're probably right," Skaggs said, as City Attorney Ken Van Blaricum agreed.

Taylor speculated that 25 to 30 downtown parking spaces are taken up by employees, adding that his own business, Taylor Printing, has a company vehicle parked out front for convenience in making deliveries to customers and the post office.

In spite of discussion at some length, no solution was suggested to keep parking spaces available for customers, except that employers could remind employees to not take the best spots and to not go next door or around the corner and park in front of another business.

Commissioners were reluctant to provide additional limited-time or designated-use parking spaces.

"If you start putting them (signs) up, everyone's going to want one," Taylor commented.