The Williamsport Parking Authority Wednesday authorized a $75,000 contribution toward the city's budget - requested by Mayor Gabriel J. Campana as the city faces a $1.5 million deficit next year.
The authority agreed to hand over the money with some members expressing reservations even as they voted to approve the transaction.
The authority members voting were Chairman Dr. Anthony Cipolla, Marc Schefsky, Ken DiRocco and Rose Choate.
Asked where the cash would come from, Cipolla said after the meeting, "We got an extra year of revenue from not tearing down the Mid-Town garage on West Third Street."
He added that the deck is owned by the River Valley Transit, which is the city operated bus and transit service. "The city could take the money without asking us for a vote," he said.
The revenue from monthly and metered parking at the garage amounts to about $75,000, Cipolla said. It is scheduled to be demolished next spring to make room for the start of the Trade and Transit II, another parking garage project. Delay of the demolition helped the authority by continuing to bring in a stream of revenue from parking customers, Cipolla said.
Even with the monetary contribution, William E. Nichols Jr., city finance director, said he anticipated $200,000 in cash reserves next year. Nichols also confirmed the contribution will be applied toward the city budget.
Last summer the authority raised its rates across the board, although even with the increase the rates are still less than most cities are charging.
Cipolla said adding the $10 increase for the monthly lot users - and similar increases for those buying monthly or daily use in the garages - was necessary because of deferred maintenance and repairs.
"We're anticipating repairing our parking lots and doing a number of capital improvement projects," he said. "Deferred maintenance has been put on overdrive."
He said it is his opinion the contribution is actually caused by a hidden inflation tax brought on by the Federal Reserve.
"It's good if we can do that (contribute), but the city leadership must keep up with inflation and if the city fathers can't do that they need to look at Washington, D.C.," he said.
"We need to get into a preventive maintenance program," DiRocco said.
In addition to approving the contribution, DiRocco and the others reviewed the poor conditions and structural deficiencies of the many parking lots that require immediate repair or maintenance. The authority has a three-year capital improvement project and will list the projects to prioritize what jobs need to get done first.
The authority appears on the path toward paying for preventive maintenance on those lots that don't need to be milled or dug out and completely reconstruct one or two in the poorest condition.
The authority anticipates spending about $523,000 in capital improvement projects starting in 2013. That doesn't include a projected $374,000 estimate provided by High Concrete Group for repairs to the Third Street Parking Garage in the 100 block of Third Street.
The authority has a $250,000 grant that will be used to add more equipment to increase revenue and it is looking at buying meters for the streets and garages that have better technology, including the ability to accept debit bank cards.
The authority's next monthly meeting is expected to include the annual budget.