Memo to the Mayor: do your homeworkMon Nov 12, 2007 Miss Vicky
Apparently Mayor Larry paid consultant Gord Hunter (not councillor Gord Hunter) $80,000 to help him develop his plan for the city budget. Miss Vicky is thinking about getting into the consulting business now, since it seems you don't actually have to do a lot of homework and still get paid a whack of money.
There were few concrete ideas in last week's speech, but one of the specifics the Mayor seemed to be considering is outsourcing parking enforcement. Here's what he said:
So why, for example, do we own our parking meters?
The city currently maintains over 3,700 on-street parking meters with an annual cost to operate the system of approximately $5 million dollars.
The City of Hamilton entered into a partnership with Parksmart and increased net revenues 122% the first year while cutting the number of illegally parked vehicles by over 50%.
I believe the citizens of Ottawa do not spend too much time worrying about who manages the parking meters.
If we were to follow Hamilton’s example we could potentially save $3 million a year with this one initiative alone.
Miss Vicky's readers, apparently, seem to do better homework than Mayor Larry's expensive consultants. Thanks to a tip from reader alf (see here), Miss Vicky has done some searching and made some inquiries. A call to Hamilton's Municipal Parking System confirmed that they are, indeed, a department of the city. They do, indeed, own their own parking meters. They have contracted a couple dozen commissionaires to help with issuing tickets, but that's it.
And it wasn't the city of Hamilton that did the contracting out. It was the municipality of Dundas, which was recently amalgamated with Hamilton. The contract with Parksmart was for 8 years, and the recommendation of the report alf helpfully pointed us toward was to bring parking enforcement back in house, the advantages of which would be:
1. Unencumbered control over enforcement policies and procedures, which allows for more flexible and timely responses to the needs of the community.
2. Greater latitude in the assignment of enforcement officers and their duties, which provides for:
(a) The development of efficiencies to implement cost reductions;
(b) A means to address shifting enforcement priorities;
(c) An opportunity to re-organize based on an effective service delivery model;
(d) Greater control over public relations and an opportunity to dispel the perception of “profit driven” enforcement; and,
(e) Enhanced control respecting policy and procedure development to promote enforcement consistency throughout the City, i.e., enforcement practices that are consistent with the other City Business Improvement Areas.
3. Direct management of parking operations, which provides for:
(a) Better control over parking fee rates;
(b) Enhanced cost recovery opportunities, e.g., increases in interest on revenues;
(c) Greater control and accountability respecting accounting practices and outcomes;
(d) A direct relationship with customers and other stakeholders, improving customer service and reducing client confusion;
(e) An enhanced ability to implement parking programs and special provisions in partnership with the local business community;
(f) A more streamlined decision-making process with respect to implementing infrastructure and equipment improvements by rolling the Dundas program into the city-wide comprehensive Parking Asset Management Program; and,
(g) “Hands on” management of equipment maintenance and customer service staff
And contrary to our Mayor's claim that no one really cares who owns the parking meters, the proposal to bring Dundas parking back in house had the support of both the business community and local residents.
Miss Vicky is a little surprised that the Mayor's claim about the city of Hamilton's "successful" outsourcing of parking enforcement has not been questioned by the media or councillors. Miss Vicky's suggestion: when the Mayor actually brings forward his more detailed plan(if indeed he has one), we'd all better go through it with a fine toothed comb. Especially before we start selling off the city's assets to satisfy his Honour's evangelical commitment to privatization and outsourcing.