Facing a $34 million dollar revenue shortfall, Mayor David Briley announced this week a controversial plan to privatize the city's parking system in an effort to raise funds and modernize a long-outdated system.
The proposal was sent out to city council members on Monday. Mayor Briley wants a third party company to maintain the city's current parking system which accommodates nearly 1,950 vehicles. By leasing out the spaces to a private company, the city could bring in close to $20 million but risks losing long-term revenue from portions of citations handed out.
"Out parking system is totally outdated, it's not useful, it's not user friendly, so we're trying to upgrade the system. It’ll be better for people who live in town, better for businesses, better for drivers, workers, and as part of that lease agreement we think we’ll get money for revenue moving forward," Mayor Briley said.
But some council members have raised concerns about the plan. They're worried that consumers could be hit with hefty fines or parking prices if a third party company is running the metered spots. Briley though wants the city to maintain some control over those variables and also look at expanding resident-only parking in some parts of the city.
While a third party company would manage the parking spots, the city would still own the spaces and have the right to terminate a contact at any time.
"Anytime you outsource you have to make sure the upfront cash is worth the revenue loss in the long term," council member Bob Mendes said.
The proposal will need council approval and will likely not be voted on until the latter part of 2018.