Monday, December 5, 2016

Parsing the Parking Meter Contract

Jackson Ward 2 City Councilman Melvin Priester, Jr. opined on the parking meter contract on Facebook:


The parking meter contract really boils down to three issues:
1.) Do we have the right private partner?
2.) Do we have the right contract?
3.) Is the price right?

The private sector isn't magic and parking meters aren't rocket science.

If you don't have a partner who can do what they're promising, as the kids say, "you're gonna have a bad time."

Likewise, if the contract isn't clearly written;
if the contract doesn't provide specific expectations for service;
If the contract doesn't allow for proper oversight of the partner;
if the contact doesn't specifically address key contingencies; again, you are going to have a bad time.

Lastly, with regards to price, as the Brookings Institute notes, privatization (or "public-private-partnerships" in today's jargon) are "rarely the lowest-cost way to procure infrastructure," like parking meters. They are not the lowest-cost because, in this example with meters, rather than buying the meters and owning them outright and keeping all the profit ourselves, we now are splitting revenue with the private partner.

At the same time, however, as Brookings also notes, "a well-structured PPP can deliver better value for the public dollar." That's a polite way of saying that while it may cost the public sector more to privatize than if we do it ourselves, if we would do a bad job, it may be a better investment of public dollars to pay the premium and have the right private partner come in.

The key then is to have the right partner, with the right contract, for the right price to create a well-structured parking program.

Are we there yet? I think we're getting close. The proposal has changed several significant ways to the better since it was first presented to the city council in mid-October (for example, revenue sharing rather than a flat fee, addressing contingencies like what happens if the City has to shut down a street). According to the memo received yesterday from City legal, there are some points that are still being negotiated that IMO need to be finalized prior to a vote such as the terms of a buy-out clause if the City concludes that the partnership isn't working out.

At the end of the day, there is no such thing as a risk free deal for the city. There is no such thing as a deal where the private partner does all the work and we do nothing. We've done a poor job managing our parking program and bringing in a private partner won't magically turn things around unless we commit to doing things right ourselves internally (both pre- and post- contract). To everyone who thinks" hey, free money, hurry up and do this deal," I'll just say that this is all fun and games until citizens start complaining about being booted improperly or getting ticketed improperly because the private partner didn't have handheld ticketing devices that properly sync with the meters.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thus far, in the last several years, and that is intended to suggest twenty or so, none of these K's have resulted in anything but loss for the city and tax payers.
Why is it that other cities, counties and even tri-county areas are successful?

Anonymous said...

That's a polite way of saying that while it may cost the public sector more to privatize than if we do it ourselves, if we would do a bad job, it may be a better investment of public dollars to pay the premium and have the right private partner come in.

Jackson's demonstrated track record is one of failure. Not a matter of if Councilman, only a matter of when.

Anonymous said...

This is a waste of blog-thread-space.

Anonymous said...

Can't these folks see the writing on the wall? Even states are giving up these private sector partnerships (private prison).
The revenue will not be enough to save Jackson.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone is claiming it will save Jackson, 6:04. But I don't see why the city wouldn't do this. Jackson can't run and maintain its existing coin operated parking meters. Why in the hell would it ever think it can operate and maintain something more sophisticated?

Anonymous said...

It's not really a matter of saving Jxn, it's just getting a foothold in the positive direction.

BTW, 6:03, certainly that's your opinion but the blog doesn't belong to you, as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

Why require folks to pay for parking at all? Seems like an expensive proposition; between all those parking enforcement folks, accounting, vehicle maintenance, supplies, and so on, and so forth. Why not just let people park, and deal with abandoned vehicles as the problem arises?

Anonymous said...

Comparing this private meter effort to private prisons is the stretch of a mental midget.

Anonymous said...

They need to pay people to park downtown

Anonymous said...

Someone has been parking a corvette on State Street in front of Eaves Law Firm forever. Free front door parking. No valet needed.

Anonymous said...

haha and yep to 8:27!

Anonymous said...

8:01pm There is no way any one could describe Priester as a " mental midget". You need to read his resume. The Pew researchers are not mental midgets either.
A mental midget is a person who thinks that a for profit organization costs less to operate than a non-profit organization when they both have the same number of employees at the same wage doing the same tasks and own the same assets.
The kicker you missed was in privatization, those who told you it was a good idea gave away assets that you, the taxpayer owned. That allowed them to initially come in at a lower cost until they too had to maintain and replace assets.
If a private company can make a profit, so can the city. The problem also is that taxpayers focused on expenses and didn't realize that to make a profit, sometimes expenses have to increase to replace, repair and maintain or to hire competent people. You did not want to do that but you end up with the costs anyway for the private company so there was no avoidance except in the short term.
What is it about the word " profit" you don't understand?
" Crony capitalism" isn't capitalism at all. It is forcing the tax payer to pay for start up operations as an investors with no hope of return on investment or else it is in services privatization forcing the taxpayer to pay for all business expenses and have no share in the profits.
What it is , is political corruption made possible by mental midgets like you who believe propaganda design to dupe you. The same structure with the same people and same equipment at the same costs will get the same result.

Anonymous said...

Where did anyone refer to Priester as a mental midget? Doubt that @7:13 AM can even calculate ROI.

Anonymous said...

9:31
It ain't free, I can assure you.

exjxnres said...

Jackson thieves will find a way to steal the money from the parking meters, if only stealing the meters themselves. Anything for an easy buck....

Anonymous said...

As long as the City continues to embrace its Amos and Andy business approach, it will continue to slide deeper into decadence...

Anonymous said...

If the city of Jackson cannot handle something as simple as parking meters they should get rid of them. Parking meters and people. The problem Jackson has is there is too many hands in every cookie jar. Parking meters worked but there were too many people who had keys to them and used them as their private bank. Those who didn't have keys just took the whole parking meter. That will not change just by getting someone else to put up new meters. Getting rid of parking meters will save more than getting new ones. If they get rid of the ones they have they can get rid of the people who were supposed to handle them.

Anonymous said...

While working at the C-L a few years back, I had a parking space across the street. It was however quicker to park at a meter out back run in and run out to do my business. I gladly paid for the convenience. Then one day I pulled into a space that had just been used by a fellow C-L traveler. A meter maid from the city walked over from the other corner and said I could not park there. When challenged she told me I could not go inside and come out to feed the meter. Now she just watched me park! Great customer service.

Jackson needs the new credit card meters, very little money to walk around and collect. Goes straight to the bank.

Anonymous said...

7:35 am I could read a prospectus, calculate a return on investment and PI ratios before I got my MBA. I learned to do that my senior year in high school in my economics course.


See 8:01pm for the words " mental midget" and then look in a mirror for the definition.

Used Car Sales said...

9:31; John Arthur the elder has driven Corvettes for fifty years. The Junior J.A. has driven them since he struck oil. He gave up the Humvee when he so often was mistaken for a Bruthah.

Anonymous said...

You have state employees parking around the Woolfolk Building downtown ans there are no meters. When a person comes to the Woolfolk Building to do state business, there is no place to park - in the Woolfolk parking garage, there are no handicapped parking places as mandated by federal law. Some of the employees that park on the street free have a dedicated parking spot in the garage! What about it DFA? Will sou do something about this? I think not!

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