Dissolving an Authority

Dissolving an Authority

Earlier this summer we wrote a Policy Brief describing the state of affairs between Pittsburgh City Council and the Parking Authority. At the time there were some that were calling to get rid of the Authority altogether, bringing the function "in house", thus eliminating one of the tentacles of City government. That talk has largely died down, but in a nearby large suburb the process of shutting down a Parking Authority has commenced.

Mt. Lebanon has had its Parking Authority since the 1950s, established initially for the purpose of financing and constructing two garages in its uptown business district. According to the municipal manager, the sentiment among a majority of municipal commission members was that "the Authority served to ‘fragment’ local government, reducing the ability of elected officials to control operations in a manner that is most responsive to citizen concerns" and thus the decision to dissolve the Authority was made.

So what happens to the parking facilities, debt, operations, and employees under the arrangement? The municipality will own the parking assets and two other buildings owned by the Authority will be sold after the dissolution. As we pointed out in the Brief, the debt question has to be settled whenever there is a move to end the existence of an Authority, and, according to the manager that debt (around $3.8 million) has been refinanced in the name of the municipality.

The parking function will be dispersed between public works, police, and finance and six of the Authority’s nine employees will become municipal employees when the dissolution is finalized.

Obviously Pittsburgh is much larger in scale and its Parking Authority has more employees, more facilities, and more debt. But if Council members are looking for a small scale case study, they have it.