Tag Archives: budget

Balancing the Post-pandemic Budget

Blog finance fundsBy Pamela Corbin, CAPP

There is little doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge effect on the budgets of parking systems throughout the country. Operating budgets are one of the most important work products in municipalities. They give the authority to incur obligations and pay expenses, allocate resources, and control how departments/programs/cost centers spend.

Governmental parking systems typically fall into one of two categories:

  • General Fund: comes from tax levies and is required by statute to have a lawful appropriation.
  • Enterprise Funds: used to account for operations that operate like a business enterprise with budgeted revenues and expenses in balance.

The City of Orlando is an Enterprise Fund with the requirement for our revenues to cover expenses; in the event they don’t cover, funds are pulled from retained earnings (reserves). During the economic downturn of 2007-2009, referred to by many as the Great Recession, the city parking system was out of balance. This resulted in the requirement to pull down from our retained earnings, and it was clear they could quickly get depleted. As a result, the parking system went through an extensive parking study and raised rates. This enabled us to balance our fund and as the economy recovered, we were able to continue with much-needed maintenance projects.

This pandemic has had the same effect on most of our systems, with impacts on some systems being greater than others. Whether you are an enterprise fund or get your funding through tax dollars, there will be challenging roads ahead as we move to ensure we have adequate funding to run our parking systems.

I have heard the topic of raising rates mentioned by various cities, but given the circumstances, this may present a great deal of public outcry. There is no doubt we will need to go deep into the think tanks to come up with new and innovative ways to balance our budgets through reducing our expenses.


Pamela Corbin, CAPP, is parking administration and planning manager with the City of Orlando, Fla.


Diversify Your Portfolio

Diversify your Portfolio blogBy Robert Ferrin

A phrase often heard from a financial advisor is resonating with municipal parking operators throughout the nation as we feel the effects of COVID-19 on our budgets.

COVID-19 has affected so many things in our world, not the least of which has been parking and transportation demand habits. Nearly immediately, cities saw their meter revenue either disappear completely or drop anywhere from 80 to 90 percent. In Columbus, we saw our meter revenue plummet 85 percent—a revenue stream that accounts for over 90 percent of our non-citation revenue.

Municipal parking practitioners have been talking about curb lane management and smart loading zones as a way to manage our asset to the highest and best use. While it remains true that loading and unloading activities continue to increase, especially in the time of COVID-19, it has become very clear that cities need to take the next step to not only allocate space at the curb for pick-up and drop-off but also monetize and capture revenue from these activities. The challenge is that these activities take place in minutes and not hours like a traditional parking session. Finding the right technology, leveraging our great vendor community, and solving for enforcement and maintaining compliance in these zones won’t be easy but are all necessary.

Our revenue streams must diversify so we can weather this storm and future storms on the horizon. I’m excited to see what innovations are born out of this crisis and how we as parking practitioners continue to serve our communities.

Robert Ferrin is assistant director for parking services with the City of Columbus, Ohio.