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Memo warns of excessive costs of parking lease plan

Mayoral candidate John Cranley, along with several city council members and candidates, are calling on the Port Authority to put an end to the city's parking lease deal based on a memo from the city's parking lease consultant that says the costs will be excessive.

The June 20 memo, from Walker Parking Consultants, was delivered to the city administration the day before City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. signed an agreement with the Port Authority to lease out the city's metered and garage parking to private companies.

The memo concluded that operating expenses for on-street parking are 257 percent higher under the lease than the city's experience in managing the city's 4,978 parking meters.

The Walker memo also said that Xerox, the company chosen to run the parking meter system, would be getting a fee that is 1,063 percent higher than that of Denison Parking, which would run the seven garages.

Cranley was joined by council members P.G. Sittenfeld, Charlie Winburn and Christopher Smitherman - all opponents of the parking lease plan - in his letter to the Port Authority calling for the lease to be scrapped. Several council candidates - David Mann, Kevin Flynn, Kevin Johnson, Amy Murray, Greg Landsman, Vanessa White and Melissa Wegman - signed the letter.

The memo from Walker came to light Friday after WCPO Digital filed a public records request with city officials.

That same day, Laura Brunner, president and CEO of the Port Authority, wrote a letter to Cincinnati city solicitor John Curp calling parts of the Walker memo analysis "fundamentally flawed" and inaccurate in many ways.

Gail Paul, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority, said there is no final contract with Xerox or Dension; and that the Port Authority has until Sept. 4 to present a plan to the public.

Paul said the Port Authority's team working on the parking plan believes there are inaccuracies in the approach Walker took to analyzing the parking meter contract, but said the Port Authority would take the Walker memo into consideration.

Brunner, in a written statement, said the Port Authority was "disappointed" that that the Walker memo was shared with the Port Authority nearly three weeks after it was received by the city administration.

Dohoney could not be reached for comment.

Cranley said the Walker memo makes it clear the city is being "fleeced" when it comes to the contract with Xerox. The currrent deal, Cranley said, "has to be put to bed" before we talk about a new deal.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.