Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has released a final request for proposals (RFP) to 7 pre-qualified investors to lease city parking garages and meters for 50 years. The mayor is hoping that a lease agreement will bring a minimum of $300 million upfront....$200 million to bring the pension fund up to 50% of its $967 million liability, and $100 million to pay down the City Parking Authority debt. Ravenstahl said adjustments were made to the original RFP following 3 neighborhood meetings...
“We have addressed the concerns of residents, small business owners and council members as best as we could while still ensuring that the upfront value is generated to protect those same constituents from drastic tax increases, service cuts, or a combination of both. Unfortunately, we have inherited this serious problem and are now forced into a situation where doing nothing is not an option. This solution is the best solution for our City.”
Unless the city funds the pension obligation by at least 50% by January, the state has threatened a takeover and would require the city to increase annual payments to the pension fund by $30 million.
Councilman Patrick Dowd says the mayor is just making minor adjustments and is sticking with his plan to privatize public assets(garages and meters)....
"Controller Michael Lamb, Council President Darlene Harris and I have been very patient..allowing the mayor to put this out to bid and see what kind of number he can catch. For the sake of the city, we're hoping he gets a great number, but we're skeptical and concerned, and think there are other ways to accomplish the same goals."
Some of the adjustments involve enforcement. Currently parking meters are not enforced on Sundays. The mayor's original proposal would have allowed enforcement after 1 p.m. on Sundays. There would be no Sunday enforcement under this final plan. Under the original plan, all city meters would have been enforced until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The revised plan halts meter enforcement at 6 p.m. in Allentown, Beechview, Carrick, East Liberty, Lawrenceville and the West End.
There have been concerns about huge jumps in parking meter rates. The original plan would have allowed rates in Carrick to rise from the current 50 cents an hour to $1 by 2014. The final plan freezes the 50 cents an hour rate for 5 years because of competition from neighboring suburban business districts. The 50 cents an hour rate in Bloomfield, which will lose hundreds of jobs at West Penn Hospital will remain till January 2012 and then would increase to $1.50 an hour by 2014.
The revised plan also calls for the city to share advertising revenue with the contractor. Councilman Dowd called that a small concession because it's hard to predict what advertising revenues would be available over the next 50 years.
The mayor said the city had to make some concessions to get these adjustments....
"we also had to compromise on other changes to ensure that we receive an upfront value that is significant enough to shore up our pension fund and save our residents from the ramifications of a state takeover.”
Those concessions include expanding the non-compete zone into an area that extends further into the Golden Triangle that discourages the building of new parking garages by the city or the Parking Authority.
The deadline for the bids is September 15 and the mayor wants council to approve the legislation by October 1. Councilman Dowd says the mayor is constricting the process..."This is a decision that will affect the city for 50 years...we should spend more than 2 or 3 weeks debating it."