WARREN Auditor: Parking deck loses money

The city will pay off its contribution to the deck in two years, an official says.
WARREN -- The city is losing about $24,000 a year on the municipal parking deck.
The deck on Franklin Street S.W. has been run by Kleese Development Associates of Warren under a contract that expired several months ago but has been extended on a monthly basis.
Construction of the 300-space deck began in 1995. The project at that time was expected to cost $2.3 million, of which $1.3 million came from state and federal grants, and $1 million from the city.
City Auditor David Griffing told council's finance committee Tuesday the city's portion will be paid off in two years.
He told lawmakers the deck isn't being used as much as anticipated and is losing about $2,000 a month.
Mike Keys, director of Warren Redevelopment and Planning, said several downtown businesses made a verbal commitment to lease a certain number of parking spaces from the city.
Many did not follow through, he said, explaining that about 160 spaces are being leased.
Management: The talk was spurred by the city's proposed legislation to advertise for bids for management of the parking deck and to seek bids for parking enforcement in the central business district and for management of four municipal parking lots.
Councilman Brendan Keating, D-5th, said the city needs to approve a better contract for the parking deck and added it's underused because "there's nobody downtown."
Councilman Bob Holmes III, D-4th, suggested the city see if it would be possible to operate the lot and offer free parking.
Public need: Keys said he's not sure the deck will ever be a moneymaker but noted the city needs to make parking available to the public.
The ideal situation would be to break even, he said, explaining the city needs to do a better job of marketing the deck and find a way to keep operating costs down.
No decisions were made, but council briefly discussed selling the deck.
Keys said there was a clause in the last contract that allowed the city to break it if it decided to sell.
Legislation to seek bids for a new contract to run the deck will come before council during Wednesday's meeting.

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