Cincinnati council and administrators spent much time last year negotiating and defending in court a parking lease with the Port Authority. Now a new Council is ready to vote on a motion to undo that plan and replace it with something different.
City Council will likely vote Wednesday on a couple motions related to parking in the city. The Neighborhood Committee approved the items Tuesday.
Council member Kevin Flynn supported the proposals.
“We’ve tied the hands of our city employees over the last few years and said don’t enforce the meters, we’re going to reduce the amount of people you have to enforce the meters, we’re not going to give you the money to buy the meters you need,” Flynn said. “But then we’re going to complain that you’re not bringing in enough revenue. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
One motion would officially begin to dissolve the parking lease with the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority the previous Council approved last year. It's been on hold since November.
That document would also set parameters for parking in the future. Those include local control of parking meter rates and enforcement hours, having the Port issue bonds to upgrade city parking garages and pay for a new facility at Seventh and Broadway, and allowing the Port to lease the Fountain Square South garage and use some of the revenue for its economic development activities.
The second motion would let the city purchase more parking meters that accept credit cards and hire more people to enforce city parking laws.
Council Member Amy Murray does not support that part of the plan.
“I would be very uncomfortable voting on this until I’ve seen all the different options,” Murray said. “But I would just like to see, let’s give clear parameters, have people bid and see what comes out.”
Murray wants a side-by-side comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of letting the city operate the parking meters versus letting a private firm do it.
Council Member Chris Seelbach also does not like the proposals. He said city residents don't necessarily care whether the city or a private firm operates the parking system.
“What they want is that the rates don’t increase, that the enforcement doesn’t increase dramatically and that the hour of operations don’t increase dramatically, and a system that makes sense,” Seelbach said. “So we’re helping push people to meters that aren’t used and help alleviate meters that are overused.”
The previous parking lease between the city and the Port Authority had a large upfront payment to the city for help with the General Fund budget and to fund economic development projects to grow the city’s tax base.
The Port would have leased all the city’s parking meters and most garages. The Port would have contracted with private firms to manage the day-to-day operations of the meters and garages.
Mayor Cranley says the modified parking proposal would provide the city with about $6 to $7 million dollars a year that would go to the city's General Fund to pay for basic service like police and fire.