WARREN - The $2.6 million Franklin Street parking deck has not earned a profit in the last five years, according to its operator.
It's a trend officials are looking to turn around.
At the end of this month, Warren Parking Systems LLC will complete its three-year, $213,000 contract to operate the four-story, 418 -space deck, as well as the city's two downtown surface lots; it also monitors parking in the downtown central business district. The city has not yet sought new bids for the contract.
Anthony Iannucci Jr., president of WPS and executive director of Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corp., said he had done several things to lower expenses shortly after being awarded the 2006 contract, including reducing the number of hours the street parking monitors work from 80 hours per week to 60 hours per week. WPS was created under WRAP specifically to oversee downtown parking.
Still, from 2008 to 2012, the deck's operational expenses totaled $250,978, averaging $50,159 per year. During that period income totalled $84,068, averaging $16,814 per year. This year, however, the deck is projected to generate nearly twice that amount, $32,031 in income.
Iannucci says this year's increased usage is due to a combination of new businesses opening in the Chase Building and increased daily use from other customers.
"We had one company that came in and purchased parking permits for 38 spaces," Iannucci said. "There are other cases where companies are reimbursing their employees for the cost of the parking passes."
The cost of parking in the deck varies based on frequency. Daily parking permits cost $2; monthly permits cost $30; quarterly permits cost $82; six-month permits are $150; and annual permits are $270.
He estimates the new businesses have increased the number of parking permits sold by 50 spaces a day.
Parking picks up
Average daily use in deck:
2009 - 70
2010 - 73
2011 - 66
2012 - 74
2013 - 130 (Jan. & Feb.)
"There is clearly a negative amount of money coming in, in terms of what it costs to operate the deck and the amount revenue it brings in," Iannucci said. "However, having the deck there clearly allows the people operating the Chase Building to bring in 40 to 50 more employees."
The deck has averaged about 70 vehicles a day from 2009 through 2012. So far in 2013, it has been averaging 130 cars a day. The deck needs to rent an average of 200 parking spaces a day to balance its budget and eliminate the annual subsidy from city coffers.
The city has in past years routinely made up the difference between the income generated and the annual expenses.
"From an economic development standpoint, having the deck allows for the growth," he said. "We hope that growth will continue."
Mayor Doug Franklin says the city is working to find ways to eliminate the annual budget deficit at the deck.
"I'm encouraged we are seeing more people using it, which means we are moving in the right direction," he said. "My goal is to eliminate all of the subsidies in the city's budget."
The land on which the deck is located belongs Kleese Development Associates, Jim Cicchillo and attorney J.D. Morgan. The city paid $150,000 for the rights to build the deck there. In return, Kleese and Cicchillo are guaranteed a certain amount of space inside the deck.
Franklin believes more people will begin using the deck once a pass-through agreement is completed with Paul Clouser, owner of National Fire and Water Repair. An interior merchant-lined passageway is proposed to run through Clouser's building from David Grohl Ally to West Market Street.
If the two sides come to an agreement, the city will invest about $80,000 into the project. It will be paid for with rent from a city-owned building.
"We've sent him (Clouser) our proposal's language," Franklin said. "We're waiting to hear from him."
In the meantime, WPS has asked the city to invest about $150,000 in repairs and upgrades to the nearly 18-year-old structure.
"The deck needs improvements," Iannucci said. "Its seals are compromised and we are seeing water leaking down onto every floor. That is causing problems.
"We should put a sealant over all of the concrete to reduce future water damage," Iannucci said."We were hoping that some work could have been done with the bonds that were being pushed last year."
The city spent $10,567 in 2012 for maintenance. In the three years prior, it spent an average of $5,623 for maintenance.
"We had a higher maintenance costs last year, because of repairs caused by water leakage in the elevator shaft," Iannucci said. "We already have a $25,000 purchase order to repair the seals around the elevator. It was not completed last year because by the time it was approved the weather had become colder and the work requires a higher temperature. We expect it to be completed sometime next month ."