The Pittsburgh Parking Authority board today adopted a 2012 budget that sets aside $6 million for the first phase of a meter modernization project and anticipates a Jan. 1 increase in parking meter rates.
Last December, Pittsburgh City Council, which owns the on-street meters, approved a five-year schedule of rate increases as an indirect part of a pension bailout.
The first increase took effect June 1. The next increase, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, would increase rates in 16 neighborhoods by amounts ranging from 25 cents to $1.
Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who is also an authority board member, raised the possibility of postponing the increase until meters can be modernized. However, other authority board members noted that a delay would affect both the parking authority budget and the city's budget, which comes before council for a final vote Monday.
Besides a share of parking tax and meter revenue, the authority voted to give the city a $2.6 million subsidy in 2012, up from $1.3 million this year. Authority board member Linda Judson said council can't expect extra subsidy if it postpones the rate increase, throwing off the authority's projected revenues.
"This is very much like a recipe," Ms. Judson said of the budget. "You can't back out the sugar if you don't back out the flour."
If council wanted to postpone the rate increase, she said, "that conversation already [should have] started before today."
The parking authority's 2012 general fund budget totals about $50 million, $6 million more than it otherwise would because of the first phase of the meter modernization program. The first phase includes meters in Downtown, Oakland and the South Side.
Proposals from bidders are due Dec. 31. David Onorato, the authority's executive director, said a contract may be awarded at the board's Jan. 20 meeting. After that, he said, the contractor will need at least 12 weeks to complete the work.
In all, it will cost $8 million to $10 million to modernize all or most of the city's 7,000 on-street meters, Scott Kunka, authority chairman and the city's finance director, said. He said only the first phase of the project would be undertaken in 2012.
Joe Smydo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1548.