Unpaid money could total hundreds of thousands
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Plain Dealer Reporter
Cleveland has failed to collect parking taxes from as many as 60 public parking lot operators, potentially costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
City officials won't identify the suspected deadbeat lot owners, saying the information is confidential. And after months of investigating, they still are unable to say how much money the city is due.
"We have no idea what's out there that we're not collecting," Finance Director Sharon Dumas said. "Otherwise, we'd collect it."
City Councilman Mike Dolan said the administration of Mayor Frank Jackson needs to crack down and get the money. "We don't have the luxury in the city of giving away money," Dolan said. "If it's owed, it needs to be paid."
City officials said they began investigating city parking lots in September and have identified 300 that they believe are public. They said they still are investigating whether at least 60 of the lots should be licensed and paying the city's parking tax.
...... A Cleveland law, passed in 1995, imposed an 8 percent parking tax to help pay for the $300 million Cleveland Browns Stadium. Money from the tax also goes to Cleveland schools and to pay for basic city services, such as fire, police and street cleaning.
The city reported collecting about $10 million in parking taxes in 2005, the latest year figures are available.... .....A Plain Dealer reporter drove around the city, mostly in and around downtown, and identified more than a dozen parking lots that do not appear on Cleveland's list of licensed lots. City officials use the list to help determine who is paying the parking tax.
Greg Grossman, who owns a state-authorized liquor store on the corner of East 17th Street and Hamilton Avenue,initially said he paid taxes on a half-dozen parking spots he rents each month next to his store.
Later, he said he did not pay the parking tax, and acknowledged renting as many as 20 spots in his gravel lot for $30 each a month.
Grossman said the city has never bothered him about paying a license fee or a tax. "When the city contacts me and tells me I'm now an authorized parking lot, I guess I'll have to start paying taxes," he said.
Another lot sits just east of East 30th Street on Euclid Avenue....... The operator, who would confirm only that his first name is Chuck, said he talked to city officials who told him he didn't have to pay the parking tax.
Darcy Ballew, director of marketing for the Cleveland Play House on Euclid Avenue and East 85th Street, said the Play House and other nonprofits opposed the parking tax to help pay for Browns Stadium. But she said the Play House pays it; she's not happy to learn that others might not be. .........."The city should enforce the codes," Cole said.
Dedrick Stephens, who runs the city division that regulates parking lots, said he is working to step up enforcement. Starting this year, if the city finds a public lot is unlicensed, it will fine the operator $100 as a minor misdemeanor, he said.
But with only two staff members assigned to monitor more than 80 separate license requirements in Cleveland, the division is spread thin, he said. Finance director Dumas said the city might hire more staff.
This must be another reason why we needed the red light cameras - to raise money!?! It is sad when the City of Cleveland, allow things like this, but create a new way to raise money on the backs of the working man- red light cameras!Let's see too many council people, money not collected from parking fees, corrupt water dept., illegal red light cameras, etc... - bet there is more if we look harder. Cleveland dems looking out for the little guy - when? where?King