There are lots of things that raise my eyebrows.
- $665,877 for Personal Services, despite the Commission only having 11.5 employees
- $622,596 in miscellaneous expenses
- $418,328 in Purchased Services
- $210,983 in Debt Service
- $45,600 in Supplies
All of that comes out to $1.9 million, and that at a time when the Parking Commission’s budget is $1.7 million.
That might sound bad, but it’s actually an improvement.
Costs in 2016 were $2.2 million, so we’re doing better.
In addition to the costs listed above, however, the Commission also has $516,200 in debt service that it has to pay off.
This debt is spread nearly evenly between the Parking Interest Fund and the Parking Sinking Fund and covers the cost of building those garages.
I decided to call up the Parking Commission this morning to get a bit more insight into these numbers.
Well, first I decided to email the director of the agency, Rod Austin, as his email is listed on the site.
This was a fake email, however, and my message was undeliverable.
So I called them up and got Rod on the phone.
I learned that the Commission takes none of its money from taxpayers, it gets all its money from parking fees and charges.
“We do generate enough funding to cover expenses,” Rod said, so they’re self-sustaining…or should be.
I asked about the fact that the Commission is coming up $200,000 short in its budget, with their needs at $1.9 million but with just $1.7 million allocated to them.
I was told that I’m not taking depreciation into account, which I was told is not in the budget to begin with.
After that I asked about the $48,000 that the Commission is requesting the City Council approve via an amendatory budget measure.
The Commission has this money now, they just need permission to use it.
And what is that money for?
It’s to study 3 parking garage gates, which are currently not working.
In fact, the one at the main downtown garage hasn’t been working at all in 2 weeks and people can just drive in and park.
I was told that these gates never worked properly, despite being installed when the garage was built, which was just 4 years ago, in 2013.
I asked why these gates weren’t fixed right then and there, and why they were even paid for…since they didn’t work right.
Rod told me that the guy before him oversaw that, and when I said that it was that person’s incompetence to blame, Rod said that wasn’t fair.
I’m not sure why – you let malfunctioning gates be installed and then don’t do anything for 4 years?
Oh, and one more thing - the company that installed those gates has since gone out of business. So we're up shit creek on getting any money or work out of them.
And let’s be honest – the $48,000 isn’t going to fix this problem, it’ll just identify exactly what the problem is so the Commission can spend around $1.5 million to get new gates.
Yet another problem with this 2013 parking garage is that it was built 2 floors shorter than it was designed.
This was done because the city didn’t have the money, despite raising your taxes 3.2% that year.
Finally, Rod told me the new student parking garage that they’re building right now – and which the Commission will have 2 floors of to itself – will bring the Commission $112,000 a year in additional revenue.
So I was glad I called and learned more about this department’s finances, and the fact that they’re pretty good at funding themselves with the money they charge residents.
Still, there are some questions and I haven’t gotten any answers in email yet.
Actually, Rod emailed me and said his staff is looking into some of those numbers. I'll update this post later if I get anything.
Update, April 28: I got an email today with a 4-page PDF outlining the assets, liabilities, income and expenses for the Parking Commission and screenshots are at the end of the post.
Until then we’ll keep wondering and speculating.
On a final note I’d just like to mention the Commission’s employees.
When it comes to the 11.5 full-time employees the Commission has, it breaks down like so:
- 1 Director
- 1 Administrative Services Manager
- 2 Administrative Assistants
- 3 Enforcement Officers
- 1 Parking Maintenance Supervisor
- 2 Fee Collectors
- 2 Toll Collectors
One of those toll collectors is only part-time, hence the 11.5 workers. And let me add - this is one of the few agencies not to increase their full-time employee count over the past 4 years.
When you have to self-fund and can't ask taxpayers for more, more, more to hire staff, then I think that's what you have to do.
I don’t know where to find information on what these people are paid, but I’ll continue to dig into it.
Thanks for reading.