Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith has introduced legislation asking the Mayor’s office to look into renegotiating a bid to lease the parking assets in the city. The move comes after council rejected the a $452 million dollar bid submitted by J.P. Morgan Asset Management and LAZ Parking to lease the garages, surface lots and meters for 50 years. The money was to be used to shore up the city’s underfunded pension program.
Council members had hoped the Pittsburgh Parking Authority would instead agree to purchase garages, lots and meters that are owned by the city. That money would then be used to get the pension fund up to the state mandated 50% funded level. Right now the pension program is about 27% funded. The Parking Authority Board rejected that idea last week. Smith says the mayor’s office is already trying to set up meetings with council members to talk about their concerns and desires. Among the complaints about the lease was that it was too long and that it would result in higher than acceptable rates. Smith says all of those ideas, and more, can be discussed.
The legislation does not stipulate with what organization the mayor’s office should negotiate but the logical answer seems to be the winning bidder of the previous RFP. Smith says this does not necessarily mean there needs to be a new bidding process. She is hopeful the city can reach some sort of agreement before the end of the year deadline.
Later today council will hear from the head of the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System is expected to go before council this afternoon to outline the process of a state take over including how much the city would have to make in annual minimum payments.