The city administration on July 15 disputed the findings of a June 20 memo that suggested the city is getting a bad deal from its parking lease, but controversy remains as to why the administration kept the memo from City Council and the Port Authority for three-plus weeks.
Critics are calling on the Port Authority to nix its lease agreement with the city in response to the memo, which says it will be 257 percent more expensive for the new private parking operator to run the city’s on-street parking services than what the city currently spends. It also concludes the city isn’t getting as much revenue as other cities got under their own parking leases.
“The on-street operating expenses shown in the model are projected to grow at a faster rate than operating revenues,” states the June 20 memo. “The city should expect a private operator to run the parking system more cost effectively than the current operation, not less effectively. Therefore, revenues should be expected to increase at a rate faster than expenses, not slower.”
The memo also claims Xerox, which is managing parking meters under the parking plan, is getting much more from management fees than typically seen in other cities’ deals.
In its own memo, the city on July 15 claimed the June 20 memo from Walker Parking Consultants, which was hired by the city, is outdated and makes a few technical errors.
“The profit margin used was based on different parking deals in other cities that are not the same as ours,” wrote City Manager Milton Dohoney in his own memo.
The city cited a letter from the Port Authority sent to the administration on July 12, the same day the Port Authority was first given the June 20 memo. In the letter, the Port Authority claims the memo makes “apple to oranges” comparisons and other technical errors.
Much of the focus is now on why the June 20 memo was kept from City Council and the Port Authority for so long, and some council members are attempting to call a special session of council to question the city administration on what happened.
Mayoral candidate John Cranley and several council members and candidates signed a letter to the Port Authority asking the city-funded agency to reject its agreement with Xerox.
“The city administration misled the public for months on the need for the deal, saying it was needed to avoid laying off cops and firefighters and then they don’t do it,” Cranley said in a statement. “Now it’s keeping vital information from the public and council.”
The parking lease was signed by the city and Port Authority in June after months of political and court battles, even though a majority of City Council now opposes the lease. Council approved the parking lease on March 6.
Cincinnati is getting a $92 million lump sum and at least $3 million in annual payments for the lease, according to city estimates. The city plans to use that money to pay down budget gaps and fund development projects, including the I-71/MLK Interchange.