City-parish predicts taxpayers will save $400,000 with privatization of parking garages
BATON ROUGE- A contract with LAZ Parking was approved last month to privatize the management of two parking garages at the River Center. The city-parish estimates the deal will save taxpayers approximately $400,000 in manpower and maintenance costs per year.
Currently, Baton Rouge police provide traffic control during large events at the River Center. Effective Oct. 1, 2019, LAZ Parking now controls the two River Center garages that sit at the foot of Government Street on either side of St. Louis Street.
"We are going to be able to free up manpower specifically the traffic division, the motorcycle guys," L'Jean McKneely with Baton Rouge police said. "They were stationed out at the River Center and helping traffic come in and out."
Prior to the privatization, the city paid 16 officers to work the garages on two different shifts on Fridays and Saturdays. That is now changing and those officers will be moved back to the streets.
The change comes as the city is seeking ways to reduce operating expenses and provide affordable short-term parking downtown. According to Baton Rouge Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel, the city will pay about $764,000 to LAZ Parking per year to manage the garages. But, that will be at a cost savings to the taxpayers of $400,000 per year.
The city is also planning to replace about 1,000 parking meters in the downtown area that take credit cards. That project is set to go out for bid soon.