Wayne County's parking garage management raises questions

By Rod Meloni, Local 4 Business Editor, @RodMeloni
Published On: Mar 12 2014 05:53:16 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 12 2014 07:09:46 PM EDT

Wayne County is losing money that could be received from parking garages.

DETROIT -

Questions have arisen about Wayne County's purchase and management of a parking garage in downtown Detroit.

The county purchased the First Street garage in 2010. It has 1,450 spaces and could generate considerable revenue. The Brush Street lot near the Old County Building has 106 spaces.

But Local 4 found it difficult to find an audit that tells how much money the lots actually bring in.

The management of the parking facilities were given to the Economic Development Corporation.

View/download: Parking operations audit

An audit of the facilities found that accurate accounting of what the lots earned was elusive. The audit reported a fiscal year 2013 budget of $1.64 million in revenue and $1.3 million in expenses. It was submitted and approved by an EDC official, but by not presenting an annual budget to the oversight body, EDC management officials were not in compliance with the contract agreement.

Local 4 found other interesting facts. A non-county employee working in the lot received county healthcare benefits with a cost of more than $10,000.

Free or discounted parking accounts for a loss of $464,000.

Local 4 also learned the same employee at the First Street garage who manages the cash coming in also makes the bank deposits.

Bryce Kelly is the new chief of the Economic Development Corporation. He says he cannot speak to what was done in the past.

"We need to make sure that we're held accountable, we're transparent, our integrity and honesty is back in place," Kelly said.

County Commissioner Tim Killeen said a larger question needs to be addressed.

"I think we need to take a real long look at, should we get ourselves out of this business," Killeen said.

The audit also found other discrepancies.  One of the lots has no handicapped parking spaces, in violation of the law. Also, some purchases were made without permission.

County commissioners may take up the parking lot ownership issue in upcoming meetings.

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