Revenue-sharing parking option pitched in Pittsburgh
The head of a parking firm once courted to lease city garages and parking spaces said he’s still willing to salvage an agreement to bail out Pittsburgh’s pension funds, even as City Council started discussing another plan to raise money that avoids a lease.
Alan Lazowski, CEO of LAZ Parking, said Tuesday his company would be willing to enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with the city that includes an upfront payment the city could use to bolster its ailing pension funds.
“The window of opportunity is closing,” Lazowski said. “But we’re still hopeful everyone will see the light.”
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl this year reached an agreement with Pittsburgh Parking Partners, a group formed by J.P. Morgan and Lazowski’s Connecticut-based company, for a 50-year lease of parking facilities for $456 million. City Council members rejected that plan, saying their constituents opposed leasing. Council proposed selling some parking facilities to the Parking Authority to raise the pension money, but the authority refused to consider it.
If the city can’t raise the pensions from 27 percent funded to 50 percent funded by year’s end, the state will take them over and force sharply higher annual pension payments.
City Council yesterday introduced legislation directing Ravenstahl to renegotiate terms of an agreement with the Parking Authority so any increases in parking fines and meter rates would go directly to the pension funds through 2040.
The city needs about $220 million to avoid a takeover of the pensions. The latest plan does not provide an upfront payment, but council members said it provides a steady stream of revenue to the pension funds.
The 2011 budget assumes the city will receive $6.7 million from parking fines next year, a $1.1 million increase from this year. The city keeps all fine revenues, while the Parking Authority keeps about 93 percent of parking meter revenues.
The plan assumes that increased meter rates will generate an additional $6.1 million in revenue in 2011, a number that would rise steadily to $16.6 million in 2040.