The buck starts here

(101st in a series of posts on parking)

We’ve all heard the saying, “the buck stops here.”

Let’s turn that around.

The buck starts here.

Here being with City Council.

And the buck we’re talking about is the City’s income.

City Council controls the City money matters.

Except that in 1988-1989 Council delegated the power to establish revenue rates for parking meters to the Mayor.

This is no mean power. Meters brought in $1,976,547 in 2018.

Let’s call it $2m.

In delegating that power to the Mayor, no mention was made of the fine structure, so that revenue power from fines remained with City Council.


Not including the fine structure or even mentioning it in those 1988-1989 Council deliberations seems like a complete oversight.

There was nothing calculated about it.

Nobody designed a system of checks and balances as some people believe is the reason for this two-headed system.

The two-headed system was not designed to mirror our executive/legislature form of government.

The two-headed system was not designed to solve some sort of problem.

It just happened.

As a matter of fact, critics of the proposed change at the time worried that it would create unnecessary trouble.

What we have now — Mayor responsible for meters, Council for fines — is the result of an oversight.

Gadfly has documented the history of the origin of this two-headed revenue system here:

The strange separation (75)

The timeline of the strange separation (76)

Gadfly has several times pussyfooted around saying what he believes about this two-headed system.

No more.

Gadfly thinks Council should take back power over the meter rates.

When it comes to raising money from our residents, the buck starts with Council.

Council needs to exercise control over the BPA finances in the way originally conceived.

What Council has wrought, Council can unwrought.

Ok — now let’s get back to the main issue, the Polk Street Garage itself.

Leave a Reply