Will Too Many Boards Spoil Parking Lease Concoction?

Last week we wrote about City Council wanting to have lead time on the decision to accept proposals from firms interested in entering into a sale agreement or long-term lease for the Parking Authority’s garages and lots. Now that an official timeline for the transaction has been published (all business related to the deal is to be done by November 1, 2010) there comes another interesting wrinkle.

Here’s what the article said: "On April 1 [of 2010], companies would be formally invited to bid to control the authority’s garages, totaling 8,874 spaces, and around 8,500 meters and lot spaces. Lots controlled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Sports & Exhibition Authority may also be included". Now the wrinkle is not the date, indicating a very expensive April Fools’ Day joke, but the fact that the deal might include parking owned by the URA and SEA.

Perhaps the parking is located in lucrative spots: a 2005 consultant’s report to the oversight board on the SEA and the Stadium Authority states that the SEA owns the North Shore Garage (it was operated by a private entity at the time of the report) but no value was placed upon it; the 2008 City CAFR list no parking facilities owned by the URA under capital assets, but it is possible they have control of facilities somewhere. Adding other authority lots into the mix may be the City’s way of ensuring they meet the 50% minimum funding ratio that would avoid a state takeover of their pension plans. Recall too that the Mayor indicated he wanted to retire the Parking Authority’s $108 million debt as part of the deal; the overage goes to the pension funds.

But with Council wanting a say that might drag out the process, what does adding the boards and officials of these two powerful entities do? Certainly they won’t just hand over the parking lots, they will want compensation. Maybe that means the Parking Authority has to purchase them first to get a unified package deal to a bidder. What if the other authorities don’t play nice? Is the City overstepping on an already complicated deal?