Parking meter rates to double under privatized deal - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Parking meter rates to double under privatized deal

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Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Time is running out on the city's parking meters. Parking rates in downtown Indianapolis could double now that the city has entered a multi-million-dollar deal to lease the operation to a private company.

The mayor's office has agreed to lease its parking operations to Maryland-based ACS for 50 years. The city gets $35 million up front and a share of the revenue that will increase over time from 20 percent to 50 percent.

"The reason they get a larger share is they're giving us a lot of money up front and financing $7-$10 million in upgrades," said Deputy Mayor Michael Huber.
 
ACS will spend up to $10 million to replace the city's current coin meters with electronic ones similar to those in Chicago, which take credit cards.  ACS' David Cummins is quick to say that's where the similarities end.

"Chicago wanted the money all up front for 75 years and said, 'You take over,'" Cummins said.

 Rates in the windy city jumped to $4.25 an hour, angering many.

Under the plan, most rates in Indianapolis will go up, but gradually - from the current 75 cents an hour to $1.50 in 2012 with increases after that tied to inflation.

"We thought that was responsible since rates haven't changed in 35 years," Huber said.

Another thing changing is the hours of operation. Downtown, you'll have to plug the meter until 8:00 pm, and until 11:00 pm in Broad Ripple. You'll also have to pay on Saturdays.

Huber said merchants, especially in Broad Ripple, want more turnover.

"We have free parking at some of the busiest times of the day," he said.

As for enforcement, ACS will continue using Dennison Global, insisting that unlike Chicago, you won't see a big crackdown.

"The city isn't giving up the keys to parking to a private operator so we can go out there and run around and write a bunch of tickets," he said. "That's not allowed in our agreement."

Huber said the city will put the $35 million in a capital improvement fund to pay for infrastructure needs, such as street and sidewalk repairs. Under the deal, he estimated the city would ultimately generate about $1.5 million a year, compared to the $750,000 it takes in now. He said that money would also go into the capital improvement fund.

The City-County Council needs to approve the deal. It could go up for a final vote sometime in September. If approved, the transition to the new parking system would begin late this year or early next year.

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