WILMINGTON — After 16 years, the City of Wilmington is looking to switch its parking management contractor, resulting in tens of thousands in cost savings.
Parking manager Chance Dunbar is recommending the city enter a contract with Pivot Parking, the lowest of five bidders. For the first year, the city would pay $2.3 million for operations and a $139,257 management fee, to cover insurance, payroll processing and other administrative tasks. It’s paid for out of the parking enterprise and convention center funds, supported by parking revenue.
The city paid $2.6 million, a flat fee, to Lanier Parking Meter Services LLC in fiscal year 2023. Lanier has been the parking management company since 2008, according to city spokesperson Dylan Lee.
The new contract calls for reimbursable expenses from Pivot to the city, instead of paying a flat rate up front. The city anticipates a savings of at least $90,000 in the first year.
“[T]he city is [currently] paying a set fee for all services and whether they spend the money or not, the city is still paying that fee,” Dunbar explained. “We’ve flipped to a management deal with reimbursable expenses and a flat fee on top.”
He used the example of payroll. If the contractor has a staffing shortage and doesn’t hire a replacement position for a few weeks, that money is not spent. As the contract is set up now with Lanier, the city funds all parking staff regardless.
If approved by city council at Tuesday’s meeting, the contract would be for one year, with a couple two-year extensions. Over the course of five years, the city could dole out $12.7 million for parking services.
There would be no direct impact to taxpayers though, even if the city saves money, Lee said.
“Any interim or long-term savings will be utilized within the parking fund for ongoing operational and capital repairs needs,” he told Port City Daily. “Parking fees will continue to be analyzed annually, with recommendations to City Council each year.”
The last time the city issued a request for proposals for parking management was in 2012. With its current lease expiring with Lanier, the city sent out an RFP for comprehensive parking services first in September. Though five proposals were received, the city voted Dec. 6 to reject them all due to improper responses and a lack of competition.
The city then extended its current contract with Lanier from Feb. 1 to June 30 — for $1.1 million for five months — to provide additional time to seek out another round of bids.
Though five acceptable proposals were received between January and March, staff interviewed the top three. It is recommending Pivot Parking — also the parking manager for Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Surf City — due to its local team and savings of at least 7% from the highest bid.
Lanier’s bid was 42% higher than Pivot and the fourth highest of the five companies that submitted proposals.
Pivot will oversee administration of all on-street and off-street parking operations including 3,200 spaces — within four parking decks, seven surface lots and 1,380 on-street metered spaces — and 60 blocks of enforcement on Fourth and Fifth streets. The chosen contractor is also responsible for enforcement — citations, collections and appeals — as well as security, staffing, permit sales, equipment maintenance and cleaning facilities.
The new contract also comes with a pay increase for the 25 full-time parking management staff budgeted. Front line positions will see a jump from $15 per hour to $18 per, and all other positions will receive a 15% to 20% increase.
City council member Luke Waddell asked if Pivot’s contract would include an amendment if the city purchases the Thermo Fisher campus, as there would be more potential revenue and additional management services needed.
Dunbar said the new contract would begin July 1, and they could address any changes following the new budget being adopted.
Council will vote on approving the contract at Tuesday’s meeting at 6:30 p.m.
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