Towards the end of their , the West Hollywood City Council will weigh a proposal to expand the City's credit card parking meters citywide. In principle, the idea is solid--making it easier for residents and visitors to park is good for local business and the City as a whole--but the proposal before the Council has several shortcomings.
The City proposes to purchase 1783 new parking meters for $1,099,000.
That's a lot of meters and a lot of money. You'd think that the City would put out a request for proposals and see whether they're getting the best price for the purchase and operation of the meters. When New Rochelle, New York, did so last week, three different products were approved for testing.
Yet West Hollywood staff decided that, based on four-year old information, that IPS was the only qualified provider and suggest moving forward with a no-bid, sole-source contract. For a million dollars.
Operating the new meters comes with a hefty price-tag as well--an estimated $991,264 per year!
To cover the costs of installing and maintaining the meters, the City proposes increasing the hourly cost of meters by 50% to $1.50 an hour--but you won't notice as much since you'll be charging it on your credit card, of course.
The proposal deserves further scrutiny because the numbers don't add up. Parking meter fines and fees bring in about $2.2 million per year. When the City increased meter rates from $.75 to $1.00 per hour, revenues increased by 15%, even though the rates went up by 33%.
We can't expect today that increasing the meter rate by 50% will yeild a 50% increase in revenues--which is what will be required to cover the basic maintenance of the new meters. Our experience shows that the higher meter rates will bring in closer to $600,000--not the $1,000,000 that staff projects.
Furthermore, if credit card meters make it easier to comply, there should be a reduction in revenues from parking tickets--which at $8 million a year are the mother's milk of West Hollywood finances.
Unfortunately, staff decided to bypass the Transportation Commission with this proposal, bringing it directly to City Council. The normal due dilligence will have to be done as the clock approaches midnight--and when we're talking about parking in West Hollywood, we're not talking about chump change.