CARTA will take over management and operation of Chattanooga’s downtown parking on Oct. 1 - armed with the help of volunteer attorneys who will take a look at tickets that are appealed.
In preparation for the move, the CARTA board of directors passed a resolution Thursday to set up a designated checking account for this portion of CARTA’s business to be known as the Chattanooga Parking Authority.
Tom Dugan, executive director of CARTA, and Brent Matthews, who is in charge of the parking venture, explained the structure of the agreement with the city of Chattanooga. CARTA will take over all responsibility of parking enforcement including the collection of money, maintaining equipment and the offices at Shuttle Park North and South. CARTA, in turn, is contracting with Republic Parking to supply personnel for these services. It was emphasized that all policy decisions would be made by CARTA. The people hired by Republic will follow those policies.
Republic will send a monthly statement of expenses to CARTA. The established budget sets the maximum amount allowed, which will not vary. In addition, Republic will get a flat annual fee of $25,000 divided into 12 payments of $2,083. This is a five-year contract. Payment in the form of a flat fee was used because CARTA officials do not want to provide an incentive for issuing tickets, it was stated. Mr. Dugan said the purpose of ticketing is only to prevent violation of the law which has the intent of providing turnover of parking spaces in the downtown area.
Last year, Chattanooga received around $450,000 on parking enforcement. To make the transition easier, the arrangement guarantees the city $40,000 per month for the first and second years that CARTA will be managing the parking business. Monthly payments the third year will drop to $20,000, for a yearly total of $240,000. At the end of the third year all payments to Chattanooga will end.
Dealing with a parking violation will no longer start at City Court. The procedure will now begin with an allowance of 10 days from the day of ticketing to pay the fine. If and when an appeal is filed, the time constraint stops until the meeting takes place. An appeal can be made three ways - online, in person at the parking office, or in writing. Officials at the office will be able to check immediately to see if the ticket was issued due to a meter mechanical failure. Uniformed ambassadors will monitor each meter at least once a week and will be aware of the condition of them. If the cause is determined to be due to malfunctioning equipment, the citation will be dismissed.
If the violation is not settled satisfactorily at that time, the problem will be looked at by an independent arbitrator. Thirty attorneys have volunteered on a rotating basis to hear disputes. The arbitrator will have the authority to dismiss the case or let it stand. If the matter is not resolved at that time, the person disputing it will be able to take it the next step, to City Court, which will meet weekly.
Mr. Dugan presented CARTA’s financial report to the board, which showed a net loss of $267,135 for the 12-month period ending June 30. He said it was slightly more than expected, partially due to insurance costs and several large workers compensation claims. Because of that, CARTA will be enforcing safety rules more strictly. He explained the practice of saving federal funds that was used to balance the losses.
The success of a “Bus Rodeo” was reported. The winners from CARTA will participate in an event in Memphis on Oct. 19. It was also announced that about 40 volunteers from CARTA will participate in a cleaning day, which will “spit-shine” the interiors of all buses.