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Rogue parking lots: How many are cheating the city?

They charge you to park, but don’t pay to city coffers. Dispute remains over how many deadbeat lots exist.

For Parkway Corp. President Robert Zuritsky, competing with rogue parking lot operators who don’t pay city taxes is frustrating. But what’s even more frustrating is what he calls the city’s lack of concern over the delinquent funds.

Zuritsky is among a group of lot operators who want the city’s parking tax gradually scaled back from 20 percent to 15 percent, which was the rate in 2008 before City Council approved an increase. The Nutter administration opposes the move, and at issue is the number of rogue lots and the amount owed.

“We’ve come up with $15 million to $20 million [annually in taxes and fees from rogue lots] that will replace what we’re looking to get back,” said Zuritsky, who estimates 135 unlicensed lots in the city based on a listing on the city’s website.

Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson said it’s hard to know exactly how many rogue lots exist because some without business privilege licenses do pay the parking tax, and others are “mom and pop” lots that only operate occasionally.

“Are there quite a few? Sure,” Richardson said. “Are they big lots? Probably not. ... I don’t think it’s a situation where it’s chronic.”

Richardson estimated about $1.7 million in parking tax is outstanding, but the proposed reduction would leave a $58 million hole in the five-year plan. In Zuritsky’s opinion, the issue is part of the reason the city is perceived as anti-business.

“It’s just unfair that we are taxed at this higher rate,” he said. “It’s not encouraging good business to come to the city and flourish in the city.”

 
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