Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has resisted offers to privatize the city's parking despite pressure from out-of-town companies.
The mayor is selling two downtown garages for $10.7 million to the Parking Authority of River City to help balance the budget. But PARC is a quasi-government agency that operates several downtown lots and garages for Metro Government.
Council members have questioned why those properties are being sold to a city agency and not put up for competitive bid to potentially gain more for the structures.
Louisville Chief Financial Officer Steve Rowland says the city has had several offers to privatize parking since Fischer took office, but the administration isn't interested.
“If we were to sell all our parking garages to the private sector, we would lose control over what the rates would be and we would possibly drive out over time businesses out of the downtown area because parking is a key cost to their employees,” he says.
The council is not completely sold on the idea of selling the city's parking resources, and members of the budget panel grilled Rowland over the mayor's proposal. City lawmakers took exception to the idea of selling two garages to PARC for $3.9 million despite the fact that the agency obtained purchased the garages from the former county government without paying for them.
Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, says if the city is going to sell its parking resources, it should be more open to the idea of competitive bidding, adding it's up the the mayor to negotiate a deal to benefit Metro Government that can also protect downtown.
“It comes back to negotiation between this administration and to the outside entity to structure an agreement where you can maintain those and control,” he says. “And make sure that there are certain components within that process that’s going to be beneficial to people and to the business to bring them down there.”
Fleming says the administration should consider a pilot program to competitively bid the resources.