Williamsport Parking Authority struggles for revenue due to pandemic

Williamsport Parking Authority needs to see a return of individuals shopping, dining and going to entertainment downtown.

“We need people back into downtown,” said Tony Nardi, a member of the authority board which met Wednesday night.

The COVID-19 pandemic and a brutal winter with repeated snow removal obligations has negatively impacted revenue.

“We’re still struggling with revenue due to COVID,” said Todd Wright, of River Valley Transit, an authority management partner.

The authority has a budget of $1 million, but is about $8,735 in the hole at this point, Wright said. It has a $200,000 balance, he said.

Down from last year at this time were ticket collections and monthly permit parking receipts.

Debt service on the Third Street parking deck is $180,000 annually, Wright said.

Debt on a $2.5 million bond is $96,000, he said.

The authority has $50,000 it owes on a line of credit for new meters, Wright said.

Snow removal costs were $20,000 more and that was not counting what fell hours later.

The financial hurdles amid the pandemic had Dr. Anthony Cipolla, authority chairman, asking others for ideas on where to cut expenses. But short of cutting employees or service the authority provides customers there were few options other than to keep approaching lenders.

“The city gets its revenue from city taxes. Our revenue is from parking fees and tickets,” said Scott A. Williams, authority solicitor.

Williams said some business clients he knows have asked for deferments from banks that offered them financing.

“No payments for three months then the bank adds the payments at the end of the loan,” he said.

The authority also is in a bind because it is not eligible for Paycheck Protection Program loans from the federal government, Cipolla said.

It was decided in a brainstorming session to suspend payment on River Valley Transit revenue allocation.

“Any other ideas?” Cipolla asked.

Until the pandemic wanes or is over the new normal may have to be looking at creative ways to cut expenses, Cipolla said.

But the authority will meet its obligations such as designing and installing an access ramp to the headquarters on West Third Street.

“We’ll have to do that eventually,” he said of separating a bid estimate of $97,000 for the pavement of the property Parking lot and the ramp.

The ramp must come first, he said.


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