CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Mayor Mark Mallory held a round-table meeting Tuesday to discuss the benefits of the city's halted parking plan and to clear up perceived misconceptions about the plan.
The Mayor and Administration argue the parking plan will modernize the city's parking infrastructure, making it easier and more convenient to park throughout the city. Also arguing it will turn an asset that can currently only be used to pay for itself, and turn it into a steady stream of revenue to fund basic city services and an up front revenue to invest in growing the city's economy.
"This is an opportunity to create a better functioning system while at the same time providing people better parking options," Mallory said of the plan.
He emphasized every meter will be upgraded to take credit cards under the plan, an app that allows drivers to extend the time
Mallory says rates will not go "through the roof" under the parking deal, citing that in 2018 the maximum rate in neighborhoods would be $1.25 per hour. Sundays and Holidays will still be free, and a free ten minutes will be maintained in high turn-over areas. He says the system will also allow flexibility in rates for events and construction projects.
The Administration emphasized the system would remain in public control since the Port Authority is publicly-appointed. The Port Authority will hire Xerox to manage the system with the ability to change management if ever necessary.
The Mayor says Xerox gets paid a set rate for their services and any revenues beyond that go to the city not to the private company, arguing they do not have an incentive to write extra tickets.
The deal would include an up front payment of $92 million dollars that would help close the budget gap for the next two years and invest in city projects like the MLK interchange and a new grocery store downtown. It would also place $3.4 million more towards city pension funds.
According to a representative from the Port Authority, all revenues would go into a lock box and be paid to Denison and Xerox on a monthly basis, some will go to pay for capital and debt payments, and the remaining revenue would go to the City.
The contracts have not been finalized with the management company.
City Manager Milton Dohoney says the arrangement with the port Authority means local control over parking asset and over rules and procedures and rates will be maintained. Saying Xerox, as a third party, has no control over how the system operates.
Dohoney also emphasized that while the deal will help bridged the city's budget gap over the next two years, it will also provide an ongoing revenue stream with a minimum of $3 million per year throughout the life of the deal.
"We're behind the curve, we need to catch up," Dohoney argued. "We are modernizing an asset that will make parking a more convenient entity for the public. That is positive."
Dohoney says they have a commitment with the Port Authority to work with the local business districts to determine how the updated system can be used to facilitate local goals.
Mayor Mark Mallory ruled out the option of using streetcar funding during the round table discussion.
"We're not using the parking money for the streetcar," Mallory said. "I won't allow it."
"This parking deal was not created for streetcar. We're not proposing that any of the money be used for streetcar. There is still no plan to take the parking money for streetcar," Dohoney said. "The council has already approved the way the money will flow."
Dohoney says once the legalities surrounding the parking funds are decided, and the lease can be executed, it can be 60 to 90 additional days for the bond sale to occur. He says he Administration would work as soon as it is possible to recall laid-off employees as quickly as possible.
The city has filed an appeal to the initial parking plan case decision with the First District Court of Appeals, which will hear arguments in the case May 6, 2013. According to the Administration, the Appellate Court could take several weeks before making a decision.
Under the most optimistic scenario of a successful appeal, the Administration recognizes the completion of the lease and necessary bond transaction cannot be complete in time to pass a budget that is effective on July 1. In a memo Dohoney states that in the absence of an expedited review of the case, the matter could persist into the summer months or beyond.