Ithaca, NY — A proposal by Mayor Svante Myrick to have three downtown parking attendants shifted to now also help with maintenance on the new Ithaca Commons was not well received by the city’s parking director.

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Frank Nagy, parking director for Ithaca, criticized the plan at a Common Council budget meeting on Thursday night.

Nagy appeared at City Hall to request that Council significantly increase the amount of money the city spends on Commons maintenance.

“Protect your investment,” Nagy said, arguing that the budget for maintenance on the new $15 million Commons should be increased by about $150,000 — rather than the mayor’s proposed increase of about $25,000.

Myrick defended his decision to hold down spending on Commons maintenance, saying that the city had invested in new technology and automation at the parking garages and should now be looking to cut costs as a result. One way to do that is by moving the three attendants to cover Commons maintenance, he said.

(He previously also said the Commons budget should be kept down for reasons he articulated here.)

“If we keep investing in new machinery and equipment … We do that so we can do more with less,” Myrick said.

Myrick acknowledged that moving the parking attendants to the Commons would prove difficult from a human resources perspective. But he said there’s no reason they can’t continue to respond to problems at the garages while also cleaning and pitching in on the Commons.

“It’s something we can do,” Nagy said of the mayor’s proposal. “… But the biggest concern is the backlash from current staff being moved over to the Ithaca Commons.”

Nagy said he was worried about three staffers having to do maintenance work that, he said, they may not be able to do.

“I’m worried about the person who’s been doing the same job for 26 years” now being asked to do something new, he said. “Is that person capable of doing that job?”

The Common Council is continuing to review the mayor’s proposed the budget; we’ll provide updates as that process continues.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.