READING, Pa. - The Reading City Council has been provided with an overview of operational changes within the city's parking authority, offering members a stark contrast between "then" and "now."
Nathan Matz, the interim executive director of the Reading Parking Authority, presented a report to the council Tuesday night, nearly four months after he was tapped for the role of leading the RPA.
Matz, who also serves as a city police lieutenant, said the parking authority was "riddled with theft, lack of transparency, lack of stable leadership, and a non-friendly environment for businesses and residents" when he took over in July.
He added that there were no general ledger transactions recorded for all of 2018 and no accurate financial information presented to the board.
"This is just completely unacceptable," Matz said.
Since then, the RPA adopted a national best practice slogan, "parking should be friendly, not free." He said the RPA has made several changes, such as a new enforcement policy that uses boots and barnacles, leaving towing as a last resort.
It also installed a $1-million gate system and secured a $30-million loan with two goals: to refinance all of the RPA's existing debt, which will lower its debt service payments by more than $1 million per year and to secure $13 million to support its 5-year maintenance plan.
Moving forward, Matz said two of the RPA's biggest goals are to improve public perception and public trust and to be fiscally responsible, eliminating the need for future loans. It also wants to embrace technology to save money and improve customer satisfaction, build community partnerships and create a public committee to get feedback from the public.
The parking authority has said it is considering a plan to have the police department run the authority full-time.
The RPA manages 6,500 off-street parking spaces at eight garages and surface lots and manages and enforces more than 1,100 on-street parking spaces, according to Matz.