BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Township Administrator Matthew Watkins has confirmed that the Bloomfield Parking Authority will be dissolved by Dec. 31, 2017, and township parking will come under the authority of the mayor and council as a utility.
“This will allow for our residents to save money through cost savings for services that the township can provide with all aspects of the operation of parking, such as financial, payroll, audit and management,” Watkins wrote in an email. “Further, there is greater coordination of the multitude of parking issues that are beyond the downtown.”
He said the process of abolishing the BPA has been under consideration since the beginning of the year. The mayor and council will be required to adopt an ordinance and the state needs to approve it.
“Then there is a number of administrative transitions that will occur over the next few months,” he said.
Watkins said that, regarding the BPA transition, the word “utility” means that the operation is fee-based.
“This is not a tax-based operation,” he said. “It never has been nor will it become that. Functionally, there will be no change from the current way people pay for parking.”
In a telephone interview earlier this week, Mayor Michael Venezia said Watkins made the recommendation that the BPA become a utility controlled by the township. “We feel this way it can better be run instead of as a separate entity,” Venezia said. “We still have outdated parking meters. Right now, parking is piecemeal.
The mayor said the BPA commissioners will not be dismissed but be retained more as an advisory board. The commissioners are not paid.
“We’ll still look for their input but the final decision will be by the council,” he said.
Venezia did not think taking on the responsibilities of the BPA will be much more work for the council. He said the township will take over some of its employees.
“It will be evaluated over the next month,” he said. “The parking attendants will go to the police department and the BPA maintenance will go to the Department of Public Works and Parks. We’ll see what we need for an office staff.”
He said the township will have to go before the Department of Community Affairs for approval.
Venezia said anyone attending recent council sessions can see that the township has parking issues that have to be addressed.
“I was never a huge fan of a separate parking entity,” he said.