Port Still Hasn’t Signed Parking Lease

Delay raises questions about local control

It’s been three days since City Manager Milton Dohoney signed an agreement to lease Cincinnati’s parking meters, lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority, and the Port Authority still hasn’t signed the agreement.

Port Authority spokesperson Gail Paul told CityBeat she had no definitive information on when or whether the Port Authority will sign the lease, but she said she would contact CityBeat when she learned more.

The lease would produce a $92 million lump sum for the city, followed by at least $3 million in annual payments, according to city estimates. But it would hand over majority control of Cincinnati’s parking assets to the Port Authority, which will operate and upgrade the meters, lots and garages through four private companies from around the nation.

The Cincinnati Enquirer

reported

the Port Authority has yet to sign the lease because it first wants a financial guarantee that the city will not threaten to cut future funding. In May, City Council considered pulling $100,000 out of $700,000 in annual funding from the Port Authority as part of a broader cut to outside agencies. The threat apparently made Port Authority officials concerned about future funding.

The city originally claimed the parking plan will keep local control of the city’s parking assets through the Port Authority. But the delay has raised doubts about local control, given that the Port Authority is going against the will and assumptions of the city government.

When asked whether the delay on signing the lease raises question about local control, Paul responded, “That’s an interesting take on it.” She says the Port Authority isn’t refusing to sign the lease, but the agency’s board is getting “reacquainted” with the plan and has a few lingering questions.

Paul added the Port Authority understands there’s a lot of public interest in the plan. She said the organization is paying attention to feedback and criticisms.

City spokesperson Meg Olberding said she’s confident the Port Authority will sign the lease.

Olberding responded to questions about local control by pointing out the Port Authority “has been at the table since the beginning.” She added, “The local control is not only through the Port, but also through the advisory board. The board members are citizens as well. So that local control will still be there.”

The advisory board will be made up of five members: four appointed by the Port Authority and one appointed by the city manager.

The board would be able to make changes to various aspects of the parking plan, including parking meter rates. Under the original agreement, rates downtown will go up by 25 cents every three years, and rates in neighborhoods will go up by 25 cents every six years. The advisory board will be able to approve a hike or reduction in those rates, but those changes would also require approval from the city manager and Port Authority’s board.

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