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Council chooses new company to manage parking operation

Management of Rochester's public parking system has been awarded to a new firm.

Lanier Parking Solutions, an Atlanta management company, was selected from a field of five national firms to oversee daily operation of the city's five parking ramps and five surface parking lots. The city council approved a five-year contract with Lanier on Monday. The contract term begins April 1.

It ends a 12-year association between the city and Republic Parking Systems of Chattanooga, Tenn.

Tony Knauer, who oversees the parking operation for the city, said a selection committee composed of city staff members in public works, finance and downtown development chose Lanier because it has a division focused on promoting alternative forms of transportation, such as mass transit and bicycles. That fits well with goals in the Downtown Master Plan, Knauer said.

Lanier will receive a $150,000 annual base management fee plus incentives tied to increasing revenue, improving customer satisfaction as measured in surveys, and achieving city goals in promoting alternative transportation.

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The contract with Republic awarded a $140,000 base fee plus a percentage of revenue over $1 million. The 2010 payment to Republic was about $172,000.

The city parking system, with about 3,800 parking spaces, operates as an enterprise fund, meaning its financial operation is separate from tax-supported city government. City enterprise funds are managed to be self-supporting, if not profitable.

If the public parking system grows, as is envisioned in city plans, or parking charges are increased, those changes will not fuel higher incentive payments to the management company, Knauer said. The formulas used to calculate the incentives will be recalibrated to account for growth in the system.

Republic employs more than 30 people in Rochester. Lanier will meet with those employees today, and a company representative said it will retain as many of them as possible.

Republic has done "a very good job" managing the city system since its first contract in 1999, said city council member Ed Hruska. He urged that the employees be retained.

The council vote awarding the contract was 5-0. Council President Dennis Hanson and member Mark Bilderback were absent. The new contract runs through Dec. 31, 2015.

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