Monday, October 17, 2005

Marymoor Parking - What we're paying so agencies like DOT can hire private lawyers to defend alleged wrongdoing

I recently received several pieces of information from King County Parks in response to my PDA request that asks, how much are we paying to collect parking fees at Marymoor Park, and how much is being collected?

The thought to find this out was the result of the discovery that King County DOT has spent more than $1 million dollars to hire, not one, but two private law firms to defend it and its leadership from allegations of wrongdoing and retaliation against King County DOT whistleblowers.

The results are mixed, and confusing.

The easy part is understanding the revenues. Click here for the PDF. Since January 1, 2004, parking collections have been about $708,000. I don't know when the machines were actually activated last year, but it was sometime last summer, so let's assume the annual revenue number to be around $606,000. Why this number? It will result in a good "ballpark" number after the costs are applied.

The second document is a spreadsheet with costs. Click here for that Excel file (1.2 MB). I'll admit that I can't read this whole thing. The "Summary of Parking Costs" worksheet estimates that annual costs for maintenance, permits, counting, collection and clerical at about $106,000. The other worksheets appear to support this summary, while the "LowOrgDepartmentAcctDetailRepor" tab appears to be all expenditures for the park, including the machines and installation of them. The total is $2 million for the year, while I can only speculate on the part of these costs associated with the parking machines, so I'm going to ignore the setup costs and just look at this from an "annual costs versus revenues" approach.

So with these assumptions, $606,000 in annual revenue and $106,000 in annual costs, the parking fees at Marymoor Park are raising approximately $500,000 a year.

To put this in some context; 611,204 people have paid the fee, stood or waited in the lines to pay it and get their ticket, waited in line at the eastern exit to drive through the ticket enforcement booth, or dealt with the generally annoying process to pay their $1 for daily parking.

So now for the questions I'm trying to ask and answer.

1. What would these thousands and thousands of people think if they knew that 2 years worth of their hassling with parking at Marymoor Park would only raise only $1 million?

2. And then, on the assumption that these revenues were critical to the operating of Marymoor Park, what would people think if they knew that the county has "blown" an equivalent amount to hire two private law firms to defend the alleged wrondgoing by King County DOT for Redmond Ridge East?

I know the direct connection is vague beyond both agencies being part of the same government funded by the same taxpayers, but why should we pay for parking at a public park so a corrupt agency can hire private lawyers to defend both the agency AND it's director and managers from allegations of personal wrongdoing?

I know that I've just lost all interest in continuing to support this parking "tax", because in my mind, it's nothing short of revenue enhancement for the defense of continuing county corruption.


David Anfinrud said...

The question to ask is not the cost of the lawyers but the cause of getting the lawyers. If wrong doing is done by State Employees. Should they not be forced to repay the lawyer fees? What of all the rules and regulations that KC Council votes on that causes Court Cases. They should have to pay out of pocket those expenses. If they know a court case will come up on constitutionality issues like Property rights. The figure the taxpayer can foot the bill. SO how many millions is spent on all legal fees in KC. I bet we could fund all the parks for several years if you include all court cases due to wrong doings, Corruption or Regulations are added together. Remember parks are a luxury item in the minds of some KC Council members. It is the last thing to consider for money. Their pet projects come first.

Anonymous said...

I've also been against this parking fee because the county already collects a voter-approved Real Estate tax from each residence in the county for parks. This dollar thing is just pile-on and should be repealed.
I'm tired of the King county corruption