Bloomfield to Dissolve Parking Authority

The Bloomfield mayor and council passed three ordinances on Monday night to start the process of dissolving the independent Bloomfield Parking Authority.

The BPA will be replaced with a municipal Parking Utility that will be under the township’s jurisdiction.  As part of the transfer, the township will assume the Parking Authority’s bond debt of $18,250,000 and will be authorized to issue bonds or notes to refund those obligations.

The council voted to approve all three ordinances 5-0. Councilors Wartyna Davis and Ted Gamble were absent.

Later in the meeting, a resolution was also passed that authorizes the township to apply to the Local Finance Board to dissolve the Bloomfield Parking Authority.

The ordinances will be passed on second reading at the next regular meeting on September 25, 2017.

According to a 2006 report sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and the Urban Land Institute of Northern New Jersey, there are a number of differences between a Parking Authority and a Parking Utility.

New Jersey parking authorities have extraordinary statutory authority. N.J.S.A. 40:11A-6 grants parking authorities the powers necessary to carry out and effectuate essential government purposes. Furthermore, parking authorities may buy, sell and/or lease property as a lessee or lessor; construct multiuse projects and parking facilities; borrow money; issue bonds; mortgage or otherwise encumber its assets; enter into contracts; and retain earnings.”

The report notes that the advantages of creating an independent parking authority include:

  • Its debt is outside the municipalities bonding limit (Cap)
  • Its sole purpose and function is to construct, maintain, and operate public
  • It can retain earnings and accumulate surplus revenue for capital projects
  • It can develop income-producing mixed-use projects exempt from real estate taxes, which are intended to subsidize the cost of providing public parking.

In contrast, a Parking Utility, while still operated separately, is ultimately controlled by the township:

parking utility has a number of the strengths of a parking authority: executive director; operating budget and debt service separate from the municipality; ability to generate annual surplus revenue and retain earnings; ability to set its own rates and fees; and a function strictly limited to providing public parking.”

However, unlike a Parking Authority, the report notes, parking utilities have less independence; the executive director usually reports through the township administrator or CFO; and the local governing body “retains jurisdiction over rates, fees, capital projects, operating budget and personnel.”

In addition, parking revenues in excess of annual operating expenses may be turned over to the general fund and used for other purposes, compared to a Parking Authority, which retains excess funds for future capital projects and maintenance.

The Bloomfield Parking Authority was created by ordinance in 2004 as part of the comprehensive redevelopment plan for Bloomfield Center. According to the plan, the BPA was created “to deal with the overall need for public parking around the train station and to serve the multiple needs for parking in the area.”

As explained in a community forum in 2012, the BPA was an integral part of the public/private partnership that led to the creation of the Glenwood Village development, including the construction and management of the parking deck that serves the residents and businesses in the area.

The council previously discussed disbanding the Parking Authority in August of 2012, when then-Councilman Michael Venezia proposed the council implement a feasibility study to analyze the long and short-term costs of dissolving the entity. However, no further action was taken.

Ordinances that passed on second reading on Monday evening included a bond ordinance appropriating $3.1 million for upgrades to Bloomfield’s water system, and authorizing the issuance of bonds to finance the cost, as well as several parking and traffic ordinances.

Other Business

The mayor and council passed resolutions approving contracts to print and install wayfinding signs along the the Morris Canal Greenway.

A contract was awarded to Precision Building & Construction of Bound Brook, NJ, in the amount of $150,825 for the stabilization of the center section of the historic Collins House, which was recently placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Stanziale Construction, LLC, of Bloomfield was awarded a contract for $503,565.80 to execute a major road resurfacing project.

A professional contract was awarded to Vision Media Marketing to conduct public relations for the township for one year.

Councilman Pomares with the new sign prototypes. (Photo courtesy of Maria Probst)

During the conference meeting that preceded the regular council meeting, Councilman Carlos Pomares showed samples of new street signs that will be phased in throughout the town over a 3-year period. The regular street signs will be white print on a maroon background and those in the Historic District will be white on brown.

The next meeting will be a conference meeting to be held on Monday, September 18, 2017, in the second floor conference room in the Law Enforcement Building.

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