The city of Chattanooga recently farmed out downtown parking enforcement to CARTA, and now CARTA has farmed it out to Republic Parking.
The CARTA board on Thursday morning approved the selection of the Chattanooga-based parking firm to hire a staff of "ambassadors" to take the place of police service technicians who are part of the Chattanooga Police Department. Republic will also collect the money from meters as well as process credit card payments. Republic will also be in charge of operating a new parking office at Shuttle South by the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Those who want to appeal their tickets are to go there.
The only role that City Court will have in parking tickets in the future is if there is an appeal of a ticket to City Court beyond the initial appeal at the parking office.
Republic will be paid a set management fee. Officials said the "cost plus" contract is still being negotiated.
CARTA will use the revenue it receives from the program to put back into downtown parking needs, it was stated.
Tom Dugan, executive director, said a request for proposals was sent out and the only firms to apply were Republic and SP Plus, a subsidiary of Standard Parking.
He said, "The Parking Authority Board (which is the CARTA Board) will be responsible for all policies such as what the fines are, what the time limits are for paying the fines, what late fees will be added, when a car may be booted, etc. Republic Parking will provide the staff to work under our policies. CARTA also contracts with companies who clean or offices, companies that clean our carpet, companies that creates our advertising, companies that clean out used oil, etc."
Brent Matthews, a former Republic employee who oversees CARTA's parking program, said there are 17 PSTs and they will be replaced initially by 10 or 11 ambassadors. But he said the PSTS have a number of other duties in addition to parking enforcement. He said, "They have been stretched thin and some areas have not had full enforcement always."
He said, even with the reduced staff, that parking enforcement will be beefed up in a district that stretches from Central Avenue on the east, Riverfront Parkway on the west, Frazier Avenue on the north and 20th Street on the south.
Also, CARTA will be installing new parking meters in October that will take credit cards as well as coins. Those include 40 multi-space meters similar to those on the North Shore and along Riverfront Parkway and 600 new single-head meters.
In the end, he said, 1,300 out of 2,100 downtown parking meters will accept credit cards.
Also, he said residents will be able to buy "smart cards" that can be used in the meters from time to time until the amount on the card is used up. Then they can be "reloaded," he said.
The ambassadors will be in uniform, including green shirts. Mr. Matthews said, "That way you will know that, 'hey, there's a parking ambassador. I want to go talk to him.' They will be in full uniform always."
Bill Allen, who is over a CARTA parking committee, said the ambassadors will go through hospitality training and will be equipped to help visitors to the city. They will carry maps of the city with them.
A new website, Chattanoogaparking.org, will be up by the time CARTA assumes the parking enforcement on Oct. 1.
A kelly green and blue logo has been designed for the Chattanooga Parking Authority.
In another matter, Autumn Jewell was approved as the new CARTA comptroller.
Mr. Dugan said she was promoted after Kelly Lopez resigned.
It was announced that CARTA has reached a two-year agreement with the union that represents its workers. It includes annual two percent pay increases as well as a boost to the employee pension fund.