City council members set to vote on privatized parking on Monday - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Council committee set to vote on privatized parking

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Cincinnati City Council's Budget and Finance committee is set to vote on a plan to privatize the city's parking system on Monday.

Under the plan, the city would receive $92 million up front and an additional $3 million a year. The lease would last for 30 years during which time parking rates are expected to increase.

Enforcement would be handled by the private operator, but the city would retain control of the parking system.

Mayor Mark Mallory is urging council to support the plan.

"This plan is a good deal for the City," Mayor Mallory said.  "It will improve the City's parking system across the board, and it will bring in millions to fund transformative projects and help to balance the city budget now and in the future.  The interchange at I-71 and Martin Luther King Drive alone will be a game changer for our second largest employment center and all of the neighborhoods in Uptown."

The issue has drawn mixed reviews.

Proponents argue that privatized parking would fill estimated budget gaps over the next two years. Reshaping downtown with a grocery store and apartments will bring additional revenue into the city.

In November, City Manager Milton Dohoney warned that without the plan for privatized parking, the results would be dire.

"To balance this budget based solely on cuts would call for the elimination of 344 positions," said Dohoney.

Opponents argue that the projected $92 million will all be spent by 2014. These individuals want neighborhoods to get more of that money instead of the city getting the loin's share.    

The head of the Clifton Community Council, Ben Pantoja, is urging City Council to reject the privatized parking plan and find a better way to balance the budget.

"We think it's really bad for business districts like this because it encourages people to take their business elsewhere to shopping malls and places like that," said Pantoja.

Pantoja worries that longer enforcement hours would have a chilling effect on the local economy.

"Now people can park at six o'clock and know that they can go to dinner and not pay anything and not have to go back and feed meters," Pantoja explained. "Having to do that all the way to 9 p.m. essentially really creates an incentive to take their business elsewhere and go to restaurants elsewhere."

City Councilman Chris Seelbach says he has come up with a better way to balance the budget.

Councilman Charlie Winburn claims that he has come up with a better way to balance the budget. Winburn said that he has come up with a plan to balance the budget that will not cost city workers their jobs.

Winburn's plan includes using $8.7 million of the anticipated $12.7 million in casino revenue to balance the city's budget for the next 20 years, and using the rest that was dedicated to the Focus 52 Fund to support a balanced budget. He also wants to execute a 15 to 20 percent across the board cut relative to salary adjustments or furloughs exempting city basics such as police, fire, health, garbage, recreation, parks and road paving.

"There is absolutely no reason for city council to privatize or outsource parking to balance the city budget, because the aforementioned plan will help us balance the city budget for the next 20 years without privatization and outsourcing parking or raising taxes," said Winburn. "Furthermore, it moves us toward a structurally balanced city budget so that we will be able to retain more jobs as well as create jobs in the private sector long term."

 

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