Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Good news, bad news. Would someone please find the light switch at Borough Hall and turn it on?

The good news is Phoenixville Borough (which means you, the taxpayer) still owns the Prospect Street parking lot/parcels.

Somewhere along the way, probably after Phoenixville's Parking Authority couldn't obtain financing from experts in the field of determining risk, Council decided the lots will be leased if the Parking Authority continues to exist.

The bad news is that Council has decided to go back to the well (you and me) to fund $5,500 for a feasibility study, now, approximately 17 months after Henry Wagner, Michael Speck, Michael Handwerk, David Gill, and Carlos Ciruleos voted for the establishment of the Phoenixville Parking Authority.

Granted, $5,500 is alot less than the $100,000 requested. Saner heads prevailed in the vote on the motion.

However, I have to ask.

Why didn't Council do a feasibility study prior to creating a Parking Authority?

17 MONTHS after organization, Phoenixville's PA leaves the residents with the oddity of a publically confused Parking Authority with NO money, no business plan, and absolutely no public or financial institution confidence.

Hello, Council!!

Back in April 2008, Councilman Jeff Senley offered the following analysis on his blog. This piece deserves to be read in it's entirety as it is the only realistic public document generated by an interested, intelligent individual who happens to hold a council seat.

Councilmembers, read Jeff's work, again.

To continue to move forward with the Parking Authority is sheer folly.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Want "Free Parking"? Play Monopoly.

It is good that the parking debate has evolved into intelligent (well, mostly intelligent) discussion as we approach the vote on establishment of a Phoenixville Parking Authority to begin addressing the issue.

I posted the following response this morning to Patricia Matson's recent online and printed article in The Phoenix.

"Hi Patricia:

Thanks for contributing this article to the ongoing discussion on the parking issues we have in town. I share your concern that we need to begin doing something about the problem.

I am confused about one point in your article though; and that is the "local business taxes" you mention. I'm not aware of any tax monies that are collected and given to the Borough from the downtown businesses.

There are some individuals who are indicating that parking is some sort of inalienable right; this just isn't so. These same folks also believe it should be "free".

The only place I'm aware of "Free Parking" is in the board game Monopoly. Even then, you only get such by a lucky roll of the dice.

A very timely article in a peer JR publication earlier this week presents data showing that the construction cost of a parking garage runs around $22,000 a space.

For a 500 space garage at that price, it's a paltry $11,000,000 just to build said facility. This cost doesn't include operations after the facility is open for business (staffing, enforcement, etc.).

Now, let's talk mathematics.

To recoup the initial construction cost (which would need to be financed using a 20-year bond), math shows that each of the 500 parking spaces would need to generate $22,000 in parking revenue over that 20-year period if the bond financing construction was interest-free.

Since, uh, that isn't going to happen, let's assume generously that we get a real bargain and the principal and interest cost is only $30,000 per space in that time period.

If the parking garage is a 24-hour facility, and we assume that all 500 spaces are constantly filled for 20 years, only $.18 an hour would need to be collected to cover the cost of initial construction.

Wow, cheap!

Oh, what's that? You mean we don't have the level of problem where said facility will be completely full 24 hours a day 7 days a week? Oh. Well that changes things a bit.

Will it be full 16 hours a day 7 days a week? Probably not. 12 hours? 8 hours? Rarely, if ever? We don't really know.

So, we must build into that initial cost factor an unpredictable level of usage, particularly if you can park on the street or in some municipal lot for free.

Let's generously assume that the parking garage averages out 100% allocation 8 hours a day over 20 years. That means $.54 an hour would need to be collected to cover the initial construction cost.

Still kinda reasonable, right?

Oh, there's operating costs? Staff to support the parking garage's operation? Well, what does that cost? $100,000 a year, maybe, on average? Factoring that in adds $2,000,000 in cost that must also be recouped, increasing the previously stated hourly average for self-sustainment from $.54 to $.66 per space.

Oh, and uh, we forgot about maintenance costs? Insurance costs? What other costs might there be?

OK OK, so we've gotten in too deep with all this silly mathematical analysis. Let's just settle on $1 an hour and be done with it, and we'll probably have a good shot at covering all the costs we incur, even if the garage isn't 100% occupied an average of 8 hours a day over 20 years.

Right? Good.

Well, kind of.

Well, maybe, but there's another problem.

Now there's the matter of getting investors to float us a 20-year $11,000,000 bond for this garage's construction. Think there's enough solid information to support investment in this opportunity? What would the investor do if we per chance didn't generate the necessary revenue to cover that year's bond payment?

Well there's an easy solution to that one.

Let's just have the Borough financially back the bond with the tax dollars of Borough residents.

"Just in case".

And then we're all set. If we don't generate enough parking revenue in a given year to make the bond payments, we'll just increase our Borough taxes a little more.




That means that residents not only would have paid for the parking garage's construction, but they'll also be paying to use it?

Well, gee. The taxpayers in the North Ward that I represent just won't go for that whole double-charging thing.

Maybe we should entertain other options.

Hey - maybe this is better left to private enterprise. Surely if there's money to be made in this adventure, someone will come in with a proposal to build it and run it for us.

... Wouldn't they?"


Parking in Phoenixville may no longer be free

Saturday, August 29, 2009

By Dennis J. Wright, dwright@pottsmerc.com

PHOENIXVILLE — Borough Council loaned the parking authority $5,500 Tuesday evening for a feasibility study to begin implementing parking meters in several borough lots.

After Mayor Leo Scoda broke a 4-4 tie with the deciding vote, council gave the authority some funds so they can get a feasibility study done on several of the borough parking lots. The objective of the feasibility study is to determine how effectively the authority would be in potentially repaying a $100,000 loan they've asked council to guarantee for them.

The parking authority, formed in April 2008, consists of Barry Cassidy, Adam Deveney, James Lolli, David Friday, Jeff Abbot and Conner Cummins.

The authority, which has no viable funds to begin with, has asked council to guarantee them a $100,000 loan. Without providing any information as to what the authority would be doing with the money, council asked it to come up with a plan.

Council was provided, via e-mail, a "narrative" by the parking authority director, Barry Cassidy.

The background of the narrative states that the Phoenixville Parking Authority has been organizing to be positioned for the start of operations. Through negotiations it was decided that the best way for the parking authority to secure seed money to commence operations was to get a line of credit guaranteed by the borough.

The narrative further states the borough specified a $100,000 loan/credit line be established in order for the lease agreement to be valid and executed. A credit line has been negotiated with a bank, and the borough has worked with the bank to ensure that the credit line meets the qualifications and protections that the borough needs to guarantee the loan. The loan is viewed by the Phoenixville Parking Authority as a short-term vehicle to enable them to secure seed money before revenue can be secured from meters.

After a breakdown in numbers, including consultant services and legal services, the narrative states that upon approval of the seed money credit line, the authority will draw down money to pay for the necessary insurance to operate.

Authority member Lolli said that he hadn't seen the document, nor did the authority meet prior to seeing the document.

Carlos Ciruelos (D-East) said that a system of staging regarding the parking lots would be important.

"We need to see a revenue feasibility study," Ciruelos said "We need to know the short-term/long-term success rate."

Cassidy told council that the authority "intends on paying down the loan right away."

Richard Mark Kirkner (D-North) responded, "We have to prove this to the public. They need to see the evidence of what they are doing. I don't understand why the parking authority wants their own insurance. Maybe we are putting the cart before the horse. Where does this money go? Where is the accounting and financing?"

Cassidy informed council that the money and checks for fines would be going to the parking authority at 140 Church St.

Kirkner, who made a motion to continue this until the Sept. 8 meeting, said, "Maybe we are not ready tonight." Kirkner's motion passed 5-3. Council then voted to lend the authority $5,500 for a feasibility study.

"This should give us real numbers to look at before we grant them $94,500 more," said council member Kendrick Buckwalter. "If we didn't do this tonight, it would be a condition anyway. If it is a viable plan, then the borough can back the loan."



A Phoenixville Taxpayer said...

Parking meters again? We've had them off and on for the last 50 years or more. And, of course, coin boxes in one corner of the parking lot.

In any case we'll have to hire a meter maid again at about $30,000/year. Maybe even two.

Would meters on Bridge, Church, and Main Streets, and the parking lots generate enough to pay for the meters, meter maid's salary and benefits, and maintenance on the meters?

Even throwing in the monies collected for parking violation fines would not bring in enough to support this plan.

Go back through the records and see what headaches the metering plans have brought in the past.

Better to do away with the outcroppings of the sidewalks on Bridge Street and open up 8 or 10 more parking spots or making some "no parking - dropoff area"s for dropping off handicapped people when going out for lunch/dinner.

Anonymous said...

If only the people in Phoenixville where long ago Tony Roberts stated the following. "Phoenixville where dreams go to die". Would LEARN from truly successful and fiscally sane revitalization efforts like west chester


How much does malcolm johnstone get paid?

Whow is the the www.wcbid.com get funded?

Does malcolm have a website to make west chester proud like


Does the cdc in phoenixville even punlicize the members of the cdc board?

Do the board members of the cdc have no shame??

Phoenixville should recruit Fumo, as at least Fumo got things done!!

Jeff Senley said...


You've beaten me to it. I was going to resurrect that post from my blog again this weekend and re-open discussion based on recent events.

I will take my post in another direction this weekend.

Karen said...

Jeff, YOU wrote that article on April 10, 2008. YOU own it, lol, and should proudly post it over and over and over again. Thanks for allowing me to "borrow" it!

Your words were prophetic a year and a half ago and they should finally hit home with your colleagues, staff members, and the PA members. Since some of them deny reading blogs, I respectfully request, no beg, that you send a hard copy to each with any additions you feel appropriate.

While I understand the reasoning behind the vote Tuesday evening, Council has to understand that they simply cannot ignore the elephant standing in the borough hall.

The Parking Authority is the wrong vehicle at the wrong time.

Jeff, what astonishes me is that there are council members who still believe they are more qualified to determine the risks associated in this venture than the financial experts at the bank(s) who have turned the PA down flat on financing.

There is no public confidence in this money pit and I further believe Council does not understand exactly how angry the taxpayers are with the issue as well as many of the other decisions made by this particular council, i.e., CDC, the library expansion, etc.

Jeff, you, Ken, and Rich, have to find that light switch at borough hall and turn it on.

Anonymous said...

Karen. You need to have a most terriblest idea contest and guaranteed Pville will win.

Lieberry. 8 million dollar white elephant

Kimbodump Elementary. 5 million dollars wasted

Holy Ghost. Can't build on something you don't own. horrible plan. But you can run up lawyer bills

Parking meters. duh

Selling chunks of your town for a buck. duh

Send your lame ideas now. And if you're in ojr, you can qualify too. How many superintendants can you hire and fire for $200k?

Anonymous said...

Karen - could you please find out where these people that want 2nd Ave for the Library, want an HUD building at Holy Ghost, want parking meters, and have other insane ideas do their drinking? I'd sure like to find that place that serves Duff beer. I wanna be like Homer Simpson too.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9/6 - You forgot to mention the blue lights, benches, and trash bins, and the Ferris Wheel!

Anonymous said...

To come up with these ideas requires smoking something other than cigarettes. Drinking won't do it either. Maybe half a bottle of grain alcohol could kill enough cells to generate such rubbish that they call ideas?