City-County Council OKs parking privatization

City-County Council members voted 15-14 Monday night to clear the way for Indianapolis to lease its parking meters to a private firm, a move proponents say will upgrade the system even as it generates revenue for infrastructure improvements.

The deal called for Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services to give the city $20 million upfront and an estimated $363 million to $620 million in meter revenue over the life of the agreement.

ACS also agreed to add 200 jobs in Indianapolis in the next two years.

“This proposal moves us in the right direction in bringing our current parking system to its fullest potential,” Republican at-large council member Barbara Malone said in a prepared statement.

Mayor Greg Ballard presented the privatization proposal in August, and the city worked to revise its terms after public outcry. The changes gave Indianapolis greater flexibility in removing parking meters and the option of terminating the agreement every 10 years.

Opponents nevertheless have complained the deal is short-sighted and riddled with hidden costs.

“It is unfortunate that the council turned a blind eye to the costs that privatization of Indianapolis’ parking meters imposes on Marion County taxpayers,” said Jeff Musto of U.S. PIRG, a federation of state public-interest research groups. “Those who expressed concern … can at least take satisfaction in some improvements to the contract that were won along the way.”

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