Pa. judge rules Chester can exit private parking meter contract

The city can now void the contract, without paying a more than $12 million buyout
The contract with PFS VII, a company based in Delaware, made the meters some of the costliest in the region, and didn’t help city finances.
Photo credit Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A private parking meter deal that gave the city of Chester some of the highest parking rates in the region is getting the axe. Now, city officials are trying to figure out what's next.

Earlier this week Commonwealth Court Judge Ellen Ceisler ruled the city can now void the contract, without paying a buyout valued at more than $12 million.

Zulene Mayfield with Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living says downtown businesses desperately need to be revived, and the parking meter deal inked in 2018 has hurt the cause.

“We fought against it because we thought it was detrimental to our business district,” she said. “We have a business district that is trying to come back.”

The contract with PFS VII, a company based in Delaware, made the meters some of the costliest in the region and didn’t help city finances.

Michael Doweary is Chester’s state-appointed receiver, tasked with getting the city out of financial distress. He says the agreement Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland made was a bad deal.

“1,500 meters we’re supposed to be installed, [but the city] never reached that goal,” he said. “The vendor receiving all of the revenue and the city left if a position not able to collect and implement a solution that really works for everyone.”

The deal allowed PFS to get all the parking meter revenue, but not until all the meters were installed. However, the contract did not specify a completion date for installing all the meters.

Moving forward, Doweary says there will be checks and balances in place when they make their next move.

“We’re still working our way through our interpretation of the decision rendered and understanding the next steps, legally,” he said.

Mayfield says he hopes the needs of local businesses and residents are prioritized.

“[The local government has to] think of other ways [they] can market the downtown district,” he said.

KYW Newsradio has reached out to Mayor Kirkland, who declined to comment.