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Sell the Meters


As the municipal home of NRR is facing a deteriorating financial position, I have a suggestion. Divest non-essential services. In particular, sell the rights to operate parking meters.

Chicago just raised $1.15 billion in cash by selling their meter rights for 75 years. They have 36,000 meters, while Minneapolis has only 6,800. But that would still result in a payment something over $200 million, assuming a similar rate.

The Municipal Parking Fund (pdf), which includes ramps, lots and meters, generates about $50 million per year, but it costs $36 million to operate parking services. Adding the cost of ramp bond debt service, the fund loses money. Which is why in 2007 the City unloaded five ramps for $67 million and retired some of the debt.

So, this notion of divesting parking from the City portfolio is nothing new or foreign to our Cold Omaha. If times really are tough, it sure seems like an option worth considering.