Atlanta to bid new parking contract next month

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Monday that the city will solicit bids for parking enforcement in the next month, meaning the highly controversial Wisconsin-based firm behind PARKAtlanta could be replaced before the end of the year.

Reed also said the contract with Duncan Solutions might need to be extended for a month or two while the transition takes place, but a Request For Proposal will happen soon. The PARKAtlanta contract expires in September. It guarantees the city more than $5 million a year, and has allowed the company to pocket about $6 million during the past four years.

The mayor said he hasn’t made a decision on whether the company will write tickets or if that function would be assumed by police officers, but he’s leaning toward having the company handle enforcement.

“I’m not comfortable diverting resources away from the department,” Reed said, adding that it could a year or more to retrain officers for parking enforcement. “I want all of our law enforcement personnel focused on criminals. I would rather that be a private effort done by non-sworn citizens, while we focus on crime and stopping robberies, stopping murders, stopping other types of crime.”

PARKAtlanta has been wildly controversial since signing a contract with Mayor Shirley Franklin’s administration in 2009. Citizens have complained about being unfairly targeted, over-zealous enforcement, and being unable to appeal tickets. Reed said a contract allowing citizens to take complaints about unfair ticketing to Municipal Court would be a step in the right direction.

“Hopefully, in this new bid, the responsive party will address that,” Reed said.

Several council members were frustrated earlier this month when Public Works Commissioner Richard Mendoza said the administration hasn't decided if the city will take over parking enforcement, if it will issue a request for companies to bid on a new contract, or if it will be a combination of the two.

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