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Letter to the Editor: Outsourcing Parking Enforcement

Hermosa Beach Mayor Pro Tem Kit Bobko expresses his thoughts about potentially outsourcing the city's parking enforcement program. City Council is holding a public hearing on the matter Tuesday, Sept. 11. The City Council meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Letter to the Editor, 

On Sept. 11, the City Council will decide whether to put out a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for private companies willing to administer the city’s parking enforcement program. The reasons for the proposal are twofold: (1) to reduce the city’s on-going salary and pension obligations, and (2) to increase revenue.  

Regarding salaries and pensions, you may have already heard some of our Community Service Officers (we used to call them “meter maids”) cost us more than $90,000 per year, and this is absolutely true. Over the lifetime of their employment with the city, the pension contributions and medical costs for these employees will cost us, on average, nearly $300,000 apiece. All of these employees can potentially retire with 80% of their highest year’s salary at age 60. How much do you think they currently contribute towards their pensions? If you said “Nothing,” you’d be right. Moving to a private partnership would remove these legacy costs from our books and drastically reduce the city’s on-going salary obligations. By the way, these savings don’t take Workers’ Compensation and liability claims against the city into consideration either.

Did you know we also currently assign a police lieutenant to manage the Community Services Division (i.e., parking enforcement program)? We do. In times like these when staffing and resources are tight, wouldn’t it make sense to move responsibility for this program to a private partner so we could free this experienced, well-trained officer to do more direct “police” activities?

Regarding revenue, the City of Newport Beach recently outsourced administration of its entire parking enforcement program and its experience is a useful example. Newport’s revenue from its parking meters hovered around $2.5M from 2006 through 2010. Hermosa’s revenue from meters is projected to be approximately $1.8M for 2011. In Newport, the private partner upgraded the city’s meters and infrastructure with a nearly a 30% increase in revenues in the first 10 months of the partnership. Given our current revenue projections, this would equate to more than a $500,000 revenue increase for Hermosa Beach. To put this number in context, we budgeted approximately $700,000 for repairing our streets this year, and if the Council chose to do it, we could use this new revenue to increase our street-paving budget by 80%.

Moreover, our newly-elected city treasurer recently identified myriad problems with the administration of our parking enforcement program (ER, “Parking Meters Declared Unreliable” May 10, 2012) that would be immediately addressed by conversion to a private partnership. The City would no longer be responsible for equipment maintenance, coin collection, or managing various accounts the treasurer identified as problematic.

Finally, some say this is about preserving “good” jobs at the city, but it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be. Part of our RFP will require the new private partner give first priority to current city employees, so no one who currently serves the city will lose their job.  

This should be about finding ways to use our city’s resources more efficiently, and limit our long-term legacy costs. Hopefully the City Council will take advantage of this opportunity to do both.

Kit Bobko
Hermosa Beach Mayor Pro Tem

Dave Andrews September 12, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Why outsource? Why not try and negotiate salaries that are comparable to the rest of LA? If you look online at salary.com the rate is about $40,000/year. If there is no negotiation then sorry they are out of a job. There is no reason why they should be paid far more than teachers in the area with a skill set that basically says you need to be able to drive a car. I don't see why we should have other companies provide the meters. They will probably take a percentage that is hefty for each meter. Why not get these meters as a city? We should look at the meters that reset when someone leaves the space. I know this sounds bad and is not very nice but then make the payment for the meters less money per hour. Maybe $1.00/hour instead of $1.25/hour. Outsourcing is "a" solution but the council should weigh all solutions and try to negotiate with the current people on the job.
Jeff Cohn September 14, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Kit Bobko & Divirgilio do not seem to be able to build a consensus on anything with the rest of the 3 Council Members. Is it politically motivated or is it in the best interest of our health, safety and real estate. Look at his voting record. Who is this guy working for? Why was he allowed to negotiate an oil deal on residents behalf when he has no kids or real estate in HB? http://www.nobpinhb.com/2012/09/hermosa-beach-city-council-voting.html
Jeff Cohn September 14, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Parking meters will be a baby step that will drastically increase revenue. Baby steps first before we give the farm away outsourcing. Why not raise the parking fees to $5 per hour during Friday night and Saturday to pay for all the added police? This might reduce some congestion. Up the cab fees into the city as well.
Jongkon Jampahom October 16, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I'm with Dave. It's not the system that's broken here, it's the wages that are approaching double of what they should be. Certainly we would have people standing in line to get a meter job for $35,000 a year to start! Are you kidding? They are paid more than teachers! Who negotiated such salaries and benefits? Sorry, the word negotiated should not have been used... Also, a pension of 80% of their salary. I worked and retired in the advertising business and my retirement was what I had in my 401K. That is the real world of business these days.

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