The City Claims New $23.1 Million Parking Garage Won’t Cost Property Taxpayers—Excuse Me?

The City Council is poised to take its first vote tomorrow (Mon, March 16) on a $23.1 million parking garage based on a misleading premise. The City Administration and some City Councilors insist that the new parking garage won’t cost taxpayers a dime because they plan to use parking revenues to fund it– and therefore won’t have to raise the property tax rate. While Portsmouth may well need a garage now, let’s be straight with the taxpayers. Parking revenue is a revenue source for the city– just like property taxes or any other source of general fund revenue. City parking revenues could be used to pay for any public purpose, from reducing property taxes to filling potholes or providing more services to seniors.

“How can the public and our elected officials be so fooled?” objects a critic of the fast-tracked process. “Just because they put it in a piggybank called the parking fund doesn’t mean the City Council couldn’t legally vote to use the money for something else tomorrow. To insist that this parking garage will cost city taxpayers nothing is just not accurate. It’ll cost taxpayers $23.1 million dollars. If you want a garage, fine. But be straight with taxpayers about who’s paying for it!”

Gary's Beverage Lot where the city wants to put a massive, taxpayer-funded six-story garage

Gary’s Beverage Lot where the city wants to put a massive, taxpayer-funded six-story high garage

And let’s be straight about who benefits too, the critic went on. “The story of parking in Portsmouth is that city taxpayers pay and the developers make hay. Development projects in Portsmouth have the highest profit margins of any city in New England. The main reasons are that most Portsmouth land use approvals are fast and developers don’t have to pay a dime in any kind of impact fees (like for the city’s new $85 million sewage treatment plant). And the biggest reason of all is that developers don’t have to provide adequate parking. Frankly, this garage proposal should not be even considered until Harborcorp can first prove to the city that their new development will provide adequate parking under the city’s current, inadequate parking standards – weak standards that gave us the need for a parking garage in the first place.”

Here’s tomorrow’s agenda:

To ask our elected officials to be straight with taxpayers and hold an honest debate about using $23.1 million in taxpayer money to pay for a parking garage, email:<>,<>,<>,<>,<>,<>,<>, <>,<> You can also show up for Public Comment.

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