So, I heard back from Joff Smith on Tuesday, December 1, about my parking privatization concerns. Here’s what he had to say:
I am aware of the City Manager’s plans to explore the leasing of our parking garages and meters to an outside investment company in return for tens of millions of dollars in upfront money. I know there has been some interest but nothing is finalized at all. If it did happen the city could put certain safeguards in place to protect people that utilize them. It would also ensure they are properly maintained and they can’t raise prices to unfair levels. The upfront revenue would be vital for the city to use in various ways which could include repaving all the streets and sidewalks in need in the city. We are still waiting to hear more details before anything is finalized or any votes are taken. Thanks for your concern.
There are a few problems I have with this.
First, we had $500,000 worth of stimulus money that we just used on McKeon Road’s sidewalk. Why wasn’t that used to improve some other horrendous sidewalk situations? If this is how we just spent federal ARRA money, why do we think that we would spend money from a company that’s leasing our parking spaces more wisely?
Third, if this isn’t a done deal, then why is the city manager acting like it’s already been decided on?
Fourth, if this is so lucrative, then why should the city give it up? As far as I can tell, there’s only two ways to make money on the parking: for the outside vendor to pay their employees less (or no benefits, etc.) or for them to jack up prices. Because otherwise how would they make any money?
I need to find a way to get Gary Vecchio to agree with me. Because he’s the kind of guy who can get things done.