Parking in downtown Warren is a touchy issue for many people, but at a public hearing of the issue on Tuesday, Ross Bryan said, "It's not a parking problem, the city has a financial problem."
So what is the bottom line?
The parking fund deficiency of $173,105 in 2014 and $115,684 in 2013 equals $66.30 per city resident taxpayer, or $68.45 per household for the two years combined, according to Greg Wilson, city intern, who drew the taxpayer information from the 2012 U. S. Census.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
The small building at the Midtown parking lot that formerly housed attendants is a fair part of the costs for operating the facility, as it must have utilities including water and sewage. Additionally, the need for maintenance and fees for the gates is close to $11,000 per year.
Additionally, if the parking fund continues to borrow from the general fund, that number will go up.
That means "free parking" by non-residents is being paid for by tax-paying residents. It also translates into $340 per "free" space in 2013, and $509 per space in 2014.
Where do these deficiencies come from?
In 2013, meters expenses totaled $905. The Midtown parking lot cost taxpayers $35,512 for maintenance, repairs, insurance, utilities and labor for lot repairs, plus an additional $31,393 in capital asset depreciation.
The maintenance and fees for the gates are $10,914 alone, Wilson said, "It is an older system now, and it can be useful, but the gates need cajoling occasionally, and sometimes cannot be opened remotely. Then an officer has to respond in person," to let out vehicles stuck in the lot.
The "Big Blue" parking garage cost $82, 406, plus a depreciation of $193,633.
The total parking expenses from 2013 were $449,432, and overall debt payments are currently $10,053 per month, including interest, although that will be paid off in 2017.
The 2013 individual wages for two part-time parking enforcement officers are $11,504.89. Administrative costs, which include the enforcement officers wages, total $82,268, which is nearly $20,000 less than was budgeted.
On the revenue side, parking fines netted the city $28,060 last year, meters, $12,821; the Midtown lot, $137,072; and the Clark Street garage, $129,314 for a total income of $333,746.
Wilson added that the 2013 audit is still in the hands of the auditors and will be presented in public once it has been returned.
He added that he has been interviewing individuals and business owners following the meeting and investigating all of the concerns raised.
Any answer to the parking problems is likely to be sticky, however.
Wilson said, "I read an article in Travel and Leisure magazine listing the top 28 Main Street destinations in the country, and every one of them listed parking as a problem."
He concluded, as he did at the meeting, that no matter what happens, someone is going to be unhappy.