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JUNE 23 - JUNE 30, 2015

Touma's "Parking Plan" Selling City Short

By Anna Howard

JUNE 30, 2015

New parking meters will take credit cards and likely dollars.
Parking meters in the old days took coins.

For the past five years the Dyster administration has been trying to sell the residents on the idea that the city desperately needs a parking plan. To that end the administration hired Desman Associates as consultants and paid them no less than $47,330 in 2010 and $65,000 in 2014 with casino revenue funds.

That's $112,330 in taxpayer dollars and Dyster isn't even out of the "parking study phase" yet.

In a Niagara Gazette guest view of Wednesday June 17, 2015 councilman Andrew Touma wholeheartedly expressed his support for the Dyster parking plan including support for ongoing parking consulting services, state of the art parking meter "stations," and the creation of a parking department with a department director.

Mr. Touma wrote in his guest view, "Several studies have found that cruising for curb parking generates about 30 percent of the traffic in the central business district."

The old saying, "never ask a barber if you need a haircut" comes to mind as the parking consultant found that - surprise - residents need the parking plan to alleviate a trumped up downtown traffic problem.

Dyster, once again, is paying consultants large amounts of taxpayer cash so they can tell him how to put on his pants.

Several weeks ago the Reporter wrote about the mayor's plans for the parking plan. We warned that the residents must keep an eye on this tricky bouncing ball because it wasn't going to bounce favorably in their direction. We warned that the plan was to turn the parking system over to outside operators and that the end-game called for the parking consultant/managers to move parking meters down Pine Avenue, along Main Street and eventually across the entire city.

We understand that the owner of a popular local restaurant expressed to the mayor their fear of parking meters coming to Pine Avenue. The mayor is said to have responded in typical Mayor Dyster fashion telling the person, "I'm not going to put parking meters on Pine Avenue."

The mayor will never personally put parking meters on Pine Avenue or anywhere else in the city.

The meters will be installed at the direction of the parking consultant/managers and through their technicians. So, in the word parsing tradition of President Bill Clinton ("I did not have sex with that woman") Dyster measured his words with one eye on plausible deniability and the other eye on passing the buck.

Mr. Touma in his guest view wrote, "Our deficit in 2014 was $7.6 million. Therefore, the council welcomes the opportunity to generate revenue with an organized parking system."

Where to begin in dissecting the chairman's remarks?

First, Mr. Touma makes it sound as if he is speaking for the entire council as to whether the parking plan will be approved.

Second, the current city deficit of $7.6 million is proof that Paul Dyster and the council majority can't manage the city's finances properly. Third, the move by the mayor and council chairman to recommend this parking plan is the most recent glaring example as to how eminently unqualified both men are to administer taxpayer dollars.

No matter how hard Dyster and Touma work to present their parking plan in a positive light the fiscal facts simply won't support their effort: the city already paid at least $112,330 to the parking consultant; the meters will cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase and install; the plan calls for costly outside management and consultants in perpetuity; the plan creates no less than one high paid full time city employee; the plan will most assuredly award the city controller with yet another "stipend" to routinely manage the parking receipts the same way Dyster awarded the controller a $10,000 stipend to routinely manage the 2013 casino revenue windfall; any remotely possible eventual net profit would be realized only after years of implementation and there would be zero positive impact on the current $7.6 million deficit; the parking plan will sign away the city's rights to its own parking as city parking meters and city parking lots spread across the city.

At the end of the day there's only one meaningful question to ask: Why have elected officials declared this "parking plan" to be beneficial to the city?





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