Critics of Mayor Greg Ballard's plan to lease Indianapolis' parking meters said they believe he could have negotiated a much better deal for the city.Skeptics point to Pittsburgh, which has a deal expected to bring in $451 million, compared to Indianapolis' $35 million arrangement, 6News' Norman Cox reported.Pittsburgh, which plans to lease 8,700 spaces and nearly 9,000 more in 11 garages, is a bigger metro area with more daily commuters, while Indianapolis is a bigger central city leasing 3,600 spaces, but none in the city's garages.Both deals are for 50 years, but Pittsburgh will get $416 million more upfront than Indianapolis."It does make you have some pause as to whether or not we're getting the best deal," said Advance Indiana blogger Gary Welsh.
Deputy Mayor Michael Huber said Indianapolis could have gotten more money if it had agreed to raise meter fees as high as Pittsburgh's, up to $4.50 an hour."We are getting less money overall because of some of the policy decisions that we've made," he said.Pittsburgh will get all money upfront, while Indianapolis will continue to share revenue with the operator over the life of the deal, an estimated profit of between $200,000 and $400,000, Huber said.But Welsh argued that even with the differences in spaces, fees and funding, the deals don't even out."If you have immediate access to $451 million, and the city of Indianapolis is having to wait 50 years to get access to that money, you know, that's a big difference," he said.Most financial experts advise getting money upfront when it's more valuable, before inflation erodes its buying power, but Huber said he disagrees.He said the feedback the administration got from residents is that they don't want the politicians to get their hands on all that money at once and squander it, but preserve most of it for future generations.