Scranton Council Grills Parking Company on Meter Management

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SCRANTON -- It was a packed room at Scranton’s City Council meeting Thursday night.

The issue drawing attention is the debate over whether to raise hours and rates at parking meters and to allow a private company to operate them for thousands of dollars a month.

“How much additional revenue would your firm actually bring in?” asked council member Pat Rogan.

Representatives of Standard Parking Company were on the hot seat during a quorum with Scranton’s City Council, held before council’s regular meeting.

The company wants to operate Scranton’s parking meters throughout the downtown.

The biggest issue raised was the Standard Parking’s fee.

“So the cost of that expertise is $10,000 a month as well as 10% take on violation fees,” said Rogan.

Under the contract, the city would pay a flat rate of $10,000 a month to the company, but council pointed at additional fees that would end up costing the city more like $20,000 a month.

Many speakers at council’s meeting believe the city will pay far more than that.

“So when you just add up all those fixed costs alone that’s a $32,000 a month payment that’s fixed,” said Gary Lewis.

“It reminds me of the south when you read after the civil war, and the carpet baggers came down and just sacked the south,” said Lee Morgan. “And we keep privatizing everything.”

The other issued weighed by council was whether to raise the rates of the meters by 50 cents an hour and to extend hours to 8 p.m. and to Saturdays.

Ultimately council felt there were too many unanswered questions and voted to delay making a decision on either of the proposals.

Residents and business owners in the downtown, who were at the meeting, appreciated that council is taking time to go over this issue.

“The meters are great for what they are, but I have employees that literally have a time on it and have to run out and feed the meter,” said Robert Dickert who manages Carl Von Luger’s restaurant.

“The Saturday day part is what I don’t like,” said Tom Sheakoski, owner of Pizza by Pappas. “People downtown like, it’s like a free day. They come and enjoy Scranton, all it has to offer, the Scranton Ballet people dropping their children off, people coming to my restaurant to eat.”

Another option discussed at the meeting was cleaning up the city’s parking garages and possibly lowering hourly rates to encourage more people to park there.