Council member Chuck Wieneke is the second City Council to bark about a plan, which is under study, to turn the city’s downtown parking operation over to a private operator.
Handling over all of the city’s parking operations — meters, enforcement, parkades and skywalks — to a private company would mean nine full-time city employees, three half-time ones and a less-than-half-time one would be out of jobs.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, Wieneke asked the city staff to talk to him about any kind of downtown parking changes that are under study and may be in the works.
“As of this time, I’ve never been told anything about what is going on,” he said. “Nobody has every shared anything with me.”
The Downtown District and city staff, in fact, have been looking at the prospect of turning some or all of the city-run parking system over to private management. A Gazette story reported as much five weeks ago, noting that a committee had selected two companies as finalists for the job.
The thought then was that a private company would be put in place by July 1 if any move was going to be made.
Doug Neumann, president/CEO of the Downtown District, has said that the district likes the idea that a private company may bring better service and spiffier facilities to the downtown parking operation. Neumann also has said that employees for a private operator would make less than current city employees.
Council member Justin Shields made his disdain for a parking privatization plan known last week when he threatened to vote against the hiring of new police chief, Greg Graham. Shields noted that Graham would be earning more than the chief he was replacing, Mike Klappholz, yet the city might end up eliminating parking positions for lower-waged employees.