Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration has been asked to conduct a study to potentially dissolve the Paterson Parking Authority.
Councilman Flavio Rivera made the suggestion on Tuesday night.
“We’re going to do the study to see if it’s beneficial to dissolve the Parking Authority and bringing it in as an utility. A lot of municipalities have been doing it,” said Rivera. “I’m not saying dissolve the Parking Authority. All I’m saying is let’s do a study.”
Rivera has the support of some of his colleagues to conduct the study.
“No one is saying we’re going to dissolve the Parking Authority. It is something we should look at – let’s look at a study,” said council president Maritza Davila.
Some of Rivera’s colleagues, councilmen William McKoy and Luis Velez, pushed back against conducting the study.
McKoy said talks of dissolving the Paterson Parking Authority will “alarm” investors. The Paterson Parking Authority is the designated redevelopment agency in the $130 million state tax credits.
“The things we say here can have an impact on the market and on the environment in which we’re doing business,” said McKoy. He said the Paterson Parking Authority is involved in development projects and financial transactions that could be negatively affected by discussions of dissolving the agency.
“What could be jeopardized? Remember they took tax credits,” said Velez. “We need to be careful.”
Velez said investors could be spooked by the talks of dissolving the agency. Rivera said the agency will be converted into an utility.
Rivera said the agency has a large property holding. It also has a surplus. It previously shared portion of the surplus with the municipal government, but ceased doing so in fiscal 2017. Rivera said surplus revenue would be used to provide tax relief to property owners.
“I’m tired of going to the taxpayers every single time,” said Davila.
“That’s a false argument,” retorted McKoy.
Municipalities around New Jersey, including Bloomfield, Jersey City, West New York, and Montclair, have dissolved their parking agencies.
“Whatever information the council desires, I’m more than happy to provide it,” said Tony Perez, director of the Paterson Parking Authority. “They have a fiduciary responsibility and they have to look at ways to manage the city budget.”
Perez said he is willing to cooperate with the council.
Perez also hired state senator Nellie Pou for $56,000 part-time position at the agency.
Municipal officials had hired PKF O’Connor Davies, a consulting firm, for $250,000 in 2016 to find ways to raise revenue. Part of the job included looking at the possibility of dissolving the Paterson Parking Authority.
Rivera said the council was never provided a report of the firm’s work. He requested the administration provide results of the firm’s work.
“We have to better understand what they are looking for. We’re doing an audit of almost every department,” said Sayegh on Wednesday morning.
Sayegh said he has yet to see any reports by PKF O’Connor Davies.
Rivera recognized pushing for the study and potentially dissolving the Paterson Parking Authority will come with a heavy political cost for him.
“I was elected to make decisions that are going to benefit the taxpayers. I understand there are going to be a lot of politicians in my ears tomorrow,” said Rivera. He said some might even gear up to spend money to oust him in the 2022 election. “If the residents decide they don’t want to vote for me, I’m okay with that. As long as I go out knowing I made the tough decisions that will benefit them at the end.”
Updated 11:59 p.m.