City Council members had questions today after learning that the city had entered into a 50-year lease with the University of Memphis for 50 on-street parking spaces on Court Avenue.
Under the lease, which was executed seven months ago under mayor pro tem Myron Lowery, the U of M will pay the city $1 a year for the spaces. Lowery said the deal had already been negotiated when he took office.
"My concern comes from a couple of things," said council member Jim Strickland. "We apparently get $25,000 per year for those spots. Last year, we approved the budget based on the assumption that we'd get $25,000 [in parking-meter revenue]."
The lease did not come before the council because the agreement did not transfer ownership of the property.
"I'm not saying if it came before the council I would be for it or against it, but I think with the change in the budget, without our approval, it makes the validity of this contract in question," Strickland said.
The spaces are located along one side of Court Ave between Confederate Park and the new downtown law school at the old Customs House. The law school will take possession of the parking spots at the beginning of January.
The city attorney said the council probably could not do anything at this point about the agreement, but council members Strickland and Barbara Swearengen Ware have been charged with coming up with some sort of amendment that would prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.