CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville's parking meter program earned an estimated $18,000 during the first month of its trial period. However, the new program is getting mixed reviews from business owners and workers around the Downtown Mall.

Over 100 spots that used to be free for two hours now cost people to park for most of the day. One of the goals of the program is to free up space for potential Downtown Mall customers, but workers say it's making it hard for them to get to work on time.

“There was a controversy amongst restaurant and business owners downtown that customers weren’t coming downtown because there was no place to park. And on the other hand, their employees took up all the spots and not allowing customers to come in,” said Chap’s owner Tony LaBua.

“We pay $20, $40, $100 every one to two weeks just in tickets,” said Pie Chest Manager Tina Morrison.

Paid parking is an everyday problem for workers at the Pie Chest, a business that relies on deliveries: “We get ticketed regularly, because we will park wherever. I'll be honest, because we just have to get pie here,” Morrison said.

One month ago, you couldn't find an empty space to park on East Market Street come 8 a.m. But now that there's paid parking, people are trying to find more ways to keep money in their pockets, and out of parking meters.

“Now people are either taking advantage of the first-hour free in the garage, and finding a space easily there, or they are going to the streets another block further away from the mall and circling around even more trying to find that space to camp in all day,” said Charlottesville Parking Manager Rick Siebert.

“For staff that comes in after the morning, so say 11 or 12 o'clock, they have to park very far away to park for free. They are late, or they park and get tickets,” Morrison said.

The city is confident it will reach the estimated $100,000 expected revenue come March 2018, and is hoping some of the funds can be allocated to help businesses subsidize employee parking.