Two dozen people spoke at a public hearing Monday night on a proposal to lease some of Cincinnati's parking facilities to a private operator. And all but a couple of them were opposed to the plan.
Chad Weldishofer owns Queen City Crossfit in Downtown. He's concerned about the possibility of high rates at parking meters near his business.
"It makes me really nervous as business owner because we have competitors right across the river, who they could go to, get free parking, they also have lower operating costs over there," Weldishofer said. "So if we lose 35 percent of our business, I'm very worried that we're not going to be able to keep our doors open."
Initially the current meter rates of $2 an hour would remain in the central business district. City Manager Milton Dohoney said last night it would increase to $2.25 in 2016.
Neighborhood meter rates would increase to 75 cents initially and the next hike to $1 wouldn't happen until 2019.
Cappel's has a couple of Downtown locations. Rich Cappel is also worried...
"Reasonably priced on street parking is essential to this downtown retailer," Cappel said. "Available metered parking is abundant in the area of our stores, please don't raise the rates. Would you consider even a rate rollback in areas where abundant parking is available?"
Another business owner also testified, but not about the rates effecting his business. Patrick Jones said the parking plan could hurt Downtown night life...
"My concern is the parking meters going to nine o'clock, you've got a great vibe going downtown now and you're going to kill it," Jones said. "I watch them when I close my business, they're waiting for the meters to become available in front of my store at six o'clock so they can park there free. So what a couple is going to come down for dinner and then come back to a parking ticket if they've stayed too long?"
Meanwhile, resident Luke Brockmeier said he blames the city's budget problems on Ohio Governor John Kasich, who's reduced the city's state funding in his spending proposals.
"I'm largely in favor of the deal as presented tonight," Brockmeier said. "Obviously there's a lot of confusion and a lot of differing truth claims about that deal."
Brockmeier said the parking lease agreement needs to be subjected to an independent audit before Council approves it.
City administrators are recommending the city lease some garages and lots and all city meters to a partnership involving the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority and four other companies.
The city would use the 92-million dollar upfront payment from the agreement to stabilize the general fund budget through 2015 and for economic development projects.
Another public hearing on the plan is set for Wednesday evening at 6 at City Hall.