Parking Meter Privatization Moves Forward

A plan to privatize Indianapolis' parking meters cleared a major hurdle Wednesday when the Department of Public Works board voted unanimously for the measure.
After criticism over the original deal, unveiled a couple months ago, the city and parking management companies went back to the drawing board, revealing a new plan last week.

"We had many, many meetings with the council, with neighborhood groups, with business groups. We've listened," said Deputy Mayor Mike Huber. "They basically asked us if we could make changes to the deal and we have announced 14 key changes."

Among the main changes, the city will get less money up front -- about $20 million instead of the original $35 million. But Indianapolis will get more in the long run, about $620 million over the 50-year contract, and the city will now have a chance to opt out of the contract every 10 years.

Parking rates will still go up from 75 cents an hour to $1.50 hour, but they only be able to increase at the rate of inflation rounded down to the nearest quarter.

The new, multispace meters will be state of the art, taking cash, credit or debit.

"That would be great -- awesome honestly, because I don't usually have change on me. I'm a plastic kind of guy," said driver Brian Saylor.

Meantime, the city won't pay for any of the upgrades or maintenance.

"In this deal, ACS (Affiliated Computer Services) is taking basically all the financial risk," said company spokeswoman Barbara Roberts. "It is up to us to do all of the operational side. We have to staff all the operations, all the technology deployments and the upgrades."

The city will use revenue from the parking privatization to improve streets and sidewalks in the metered areas of downtown and Broad Ripple.

Drivers will pay to park until 9 p.m.

As for the fees for opting out of the 50-year contract, it would cost the city $19.8 million to cancel the contract after the first decade, with fees declining after that.

City leaders argue that even if the city opts out at the first chance, the city still comes out ahead because they will have already gotten and spent the $20 million up front and would be able to keep all the new, modern meters.

The issue must still go before the City-County Council. A vote is expected to happen within four to six weeks.

If approved, ACS will begin installing the new meters by spring.
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