In his Recommended Budget, City Manager Milton Dohoney proposed establishing a public-private partnership to operate the City's parking system. There have been some misconceptions surrounding this proposal. Below are some clarifications regarding this issue.
MYTH: The City is selling the Parking system for 30 years to fix the budget for one year.
FACT: The City is not selling the Parking system; the City is searching for a partner to enter into for long-term management of the Parking system. The City intends to retain significant control over the Parking system.
Furthermore, the Administration's approach is that this cannot and will not be a one-year budget fix. Rather, this public-private partnership will expand the City's Parking system and provide for an ongoing revenue stream for the next 30 years. By leasing the Parking system, the City will have greater flexibility in how it uses the money now and in budget cycles to come to pay for expenses in the General Fund (which pays salaries for police, fire, etc.) and for Capital (bricks and mortar projects).
MYTH: A private company will just raise rates sky-high, which will keep shoppers, diners and visitors away from Downtown and the neighborhoods.
FACT: A thriving Downtown and neighborhood business districts are critical to the City's long-term strategy for success. The City is not interested in a parking partner who will raise rates “sky-high” and drive business away. That would undercut the City’s strategy of investing in business to help Cincinnati grow. In fact, the City has directly helped to create more than 5,000 jobs in the past two years.
While the final details of the parking proposals must be negotiated, the City will be part of any decision regarding rates. There will be limits spelled out in the contract for the parking partner. They will not have”free rein over rates, and this will all be part of the City’s negotiations. The parking partners’ prices will not exceed the market’s rates.
MYTH: If the City keeps operating the Parking system, rates won't go up.
FACT: No matter who operates the Parking system, rates will increase. To think otherwise is not living with the reality of the market, inflation, and our budget. These are the factors that must be balanced.
MYTH: This is a rushed deal without any public input.
FACT: Any long-term lease of the City's Parking system will be thoroughly vetted and negotiated. The Administration is studying what other cities have done right, and what others could have done better. The final recommended deal will be presented to City Council in February or March 2013 for full public consideration.
MYTH: The details have been worked out.
FACT: No final evaluations or determinations have been made. This is a negotiation and now City staff, financial and parking consultants will meet with the companies who submitted proposals Other non-financial considerations, including experience, approach, resources, etc. will be considered during the evaluation period. The City and its consultants will take their time to further review the submittals and arrive at a common understanding with all parties involved. Then, City staff will bring it back to City Council for approval.