(Cincinnati) -- The City Manager first proposed leasing the City's parking as a way to patch some budget gaps. But, now, with a deal on the table with the Port of Cincinnati Development Corporation, the details are coming out.
The argument in favor of the proposal is that the City will get a lump sum of $92 million that can be used for economic development projects, like a new residential tower at 4th and Race, and a new parking garage where the Tower Place Mall now stands. There are also plans to spend $20 million on an I-71 interchange at Martin Luther King Jr Drive. $4 million could go to finish Smale Riverfront Park before the 2015 MLB All Star game. Other funds could turn a railroad line between Evanston and Oakley into a bike trail. Remaining money would go into the City's reserves, and general funds.
Milton Dohoney says the City would get an addition $3 million a year.
If Council approves the deal, the Port Authority of Cincinnati would lease street parking for 30 years, and city owned garages for 50. The development corporation would then subcontract with Xerox to take over the meters, and with Denison Parking to take care of the garages.
Some of the opposition, Monday night, came from people who own small businesses, who believe privatization will mean dramatically higher parking rates. Rich Cappel says reasonably priced, on-street parking is vital for retail development. The owner of the Plum Street Cafe says expanding meter hours would kill her happy hour business.
The City Manager says any increase in downtown rates would be limited to a $0.25, every three years. Under the proposal, drivers would have to plug the meter in the Central Business District from 8am to 9pm. For neighborhood meters, the time would start at 7am.
Another public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, at 6pm, at City Hall.