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VXI parking will cost city more money



Published: Tue, May 24, 2011 @ 12:05 a.m.

photo

Lou Frangos

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

It’s going to cost the city more money to provide parking spots for VXI Global Solutions employees than originally proposed.

VXI signed a contract for up to $189,000 annually with USA Parking Systems Inc. for 700 spots at the latter’s Plaza Parking Deck at 16 N. Champion St. with the bill covered in its entirety by the city.

As part of a deal to get VXI, a call center at the city-owned 20 Federal Place office building to open and expand downtown, the city agreed to provide enough parking spots for 700 of the company’s workers.

The city signed a five-year deal about 18 months ago for 250 spots for VXI employees at the deck for $60,000 annually.

The city administration asked council in March to sign an amendment to the USA deal, retroactive to October 2010, to provide 500 total spots for VXI employees at the deck for $120,000 a year.

But council members declined to take action because they wanted to make sure the deck’s structure was in sound shape and be guaranteed that they had an accurate count of how many VXI employees’ vehicles were parking.

Lou Frangos, USA Parking’s president, said in March that he’d allowed more than 250 VXI employees to use his lot since October 2010 with the promise from city officials that he’d be reimbursed.

When council didn’t approve the new deal, Frangos first restricted VXI to 250 spots, and then canceled the deal.

“We lost some good will with USA Parking” after that, T. Sharon Woodberry, the city’s economic development director, told city council’s finance committee Monday.

Woodberry later said council’s decision to wait “was a bad move. We’re paying more than what we brought to council, a lot more. We had a better deal than what we have now.”

After Frangos canceled the parking deal, city administrators asked VXI officials to directly negotiate with the parking deck owner, Woodberry said.

That resulted in the $189,000 deal, and a decision by VXI that the company needs 700 and not 500 spots, she said.

City officials agreed to provide parking for 700 vehicles for VXI employees, and believed that could be done with 500 spots because of the different work shifts, Woodberry said.

But VXI officials said its shifts “overlap” and it needs 700 spots, she said.

Beginning this month, VXI took out its monthly parking cost of $15,750 from the rent it pays the city, about $25,000, Woodberry said.

“What checks and balances do we have so we’re not cutting a check to VXI” without knowing how many parking spots their employees are using? asked Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd.

“We felt [$120,000] was an exorbitant amount to begin with.”

VXI’s decision to sign the contract and reduce the rent payment to the city could be a contract breach by the company, Kitchen said. Woodberry and Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello said there is nothing the city can do to get out of the agreement.

There are plenty of downtown parking lots that are empty at night that could probably offer cheaper rates than the USA parking deck and the city should seek other proposals, said council President Charles Sammarone.

After USA reduced the number of spots at its deck, VXI employees were parking for free at the Covelli Centre.

But VXI employees complained about the walk to work and expressed concerns about the safety at the center.

Also Monday, council members complained that the board of control, without a council vote, approved a $90,000 annual contract in October 2010 with the Regional Income Tax Agency for a one-year renewal to pay the salary and benefits of Sarah Lown, the city’s development incentive manager.

Lown oversees the city’s applications for certain state funding and joint economic development district proposals as a RITA employee working out of the city’s economic development office.

“I’m utterly confused with” that arrangement, Kitchen said.

When pressed by council members, Guglucello agreed that city council should have approved the $90,000 allocation before the contract was renewed.

Council members only found out about the Lown renewal recently while reviewing professional service contracts, said Councilman Jamael Tito Brown, D-3rd.

“This should be a city position and the hire should be required to take a civil service test,” Sammarone said.

“I don’t feel comfortable with the way we’re doing this.”


Comments

1dd933(231 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Confused yet?

Didn't somebody once say "He who hesitates is lost."?

And when these guys (and ladies) are term limited out, a whole new group of councilmembers will be sworn in.

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2palbubba(664 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Lou Frangos has found himself a way to make a boatload of money from the bunch that makes Dumb and Dumber look like Harvard MBA's. Namely Youngstown City Council who continues to amaze you with their inept abilities. Being involved in any business deal with Lou Frangos by this inept council is like going to a gun fight with a knife. Just look at what they are now going through at the Covelli Center with food service. No wonder the mayor wants to hire an outside firm to find a police chief.

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3One_Who_Stayed(237 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

We need to hire an outside firm to find another city council. I don't know about anybody else, but I've had as much of this Keystone Cop idiot-ass city council as I can STAND!

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4demaink(4 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

@ Palbubba and One_who_stayed
I vowed to not post again until next year but I could not help myself after reading these two posts.
The only thing I will say is that if you think that council is that bad, I wonder what you feel about the people who actually put these deals together? If you really knew what you were talking about, you would clearly understand that City Council does not negotiate nor enter into any agreements or contracts. That is a function of the Administration (Mayor, Law Director, and Finance Director)
Council's role is to make sure that these deals are in the best interest of the city taxpayer and not give people sweetheart deals that make them better off and leave us worse off.
So, while I can appreciate your interest in city government, I would hope that you both would attend a few of these meetings so that you too can stop being a monday morning quarterback.
One last thing, all 7 memebers of council as well as the president of council are also the Ones_who_stayed.

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5howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

Fully open and transparent council meetings would be a good place to start, no more of the back room discussions and deciding how to vote outside the council chamber. The current council meetings are faster paced than a NASCAR lap at Daytona, and never include any details and totally discourage citizen participation.

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6One_Who_Stayed(237 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I have been at enough City Council meetings and have spoken to many of you personally (although not you Demain) to understand all-too-well what goes on. This is not Monday Morning quarterbacking, this is years of watching the infighting, posturing, political maneuvering and "you gotta go through me" attitude that our City Council has.

We pay someone to be the City's Economic Development Director and yet when she makes a judgement, you guys spend so much time bickering among yourselves to make sure that no one gets a "Sweetheart Deal" that you hosed the whole thing and actually caused the city to get a rotten deal. What exactly is wrong with a business occasionally getting a sweetheart deal? It happens all the time in real-life (ie.not government dealings) . So now everyone involved got a crap deal due to councils inability to make a timely decision.
Nice job guys.

As far as I have seen, individual City Council members spend more time discussing what they wont or cant do, what others cant do and debating their own responsibilities than they do anything else.

There is an old saying that goes "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission".

I suggest you guys start asking for forgiveness more often than you debate whether or not you or someone else have the permission - at least that would mean that you tried to do something. Which is more than what I have ever seen from the Youngstown City Council.

I know you live here and want the place to be better, but it's time to put the needs of the city and the area before your own political aspirations and ego.

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7TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

why is the city paying for a business's parking anyway?

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8One_Who_Stayed(237 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

@silenceTruth

You make it sound like $1 per day for parking is some huge ripoff. It isn't. All of the time that I paid for parking while I had offices downtown (throughout the 90's), I paid $20 per month per vehicle for outdoor parking - not covered in a building - but a surface lot. $1 per day for covered parking is cheap.

T. Sharon Woodberry's job title is "Economic Development Director". Why the hell are we paying her if all we are going to do is second-guess and over-ride every decision she makes. She set up a good deal for the city, VXI and Fragnos and, as usual, city council stepped in second-guessed the crap out of her, then hosed the whole deal by not making any decision.

My point is that we spend so much time and effort making sure that no one gets a "better" deal than we do that we end up with crappy deals on everything and it takes them for ever to do it. Business doesn't run that way. If we are to entice businesses to locate here, we need to give them what they need (even if we could get a better deal after a years worth of debate, bidding and evaluation). They will go elsewhere, or make their own situations (as VXI ultimately did), And how exactly would city council validate (or "get an accurate count") of how many vehicles VXI has need for parking for? Stand there and count them as they go by?

This is a business that negotiated a deal with the city to bring jobs downtown. If Sharron made a bad deal with them, so be it - fire her. Otherwise, honor the deal she made and don't screw around with it as thought you know better. . . you don't. When was the last time you did any economic development work (other than shopping at Southern Park Mall)? Just because you think Lou Fragnos is a crook doesn't make it so.

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