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While City's Debt Grows, Parking Meter Company Rakes In Profit

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jul 30, 2010 9:40PM

Photo by ehfisher

The city leased our parking meters for $1.15 billion, about half of what then-Inspector General David Hoffman said we could have gotten for the deal. And now, as those funds have dwindled and the city faces a bigger debt, the company running the meters is posting grand profits, according to a report today from the Chicago News Cooperative: "The financial documents raise new questions about whether the city negotiated the best deal it could for leasing away one of its most lucrative assets." Uh, yeah, ya think? The CNC report continues:

Chicago Parking Meters is on track to take in more than $73 million in 2010, according to Standard & Poor’s, one of the agencies. That is more than three times the roughly $20 million a year that the city had reaped from its meters before the privatization deal.

“We view the company’s business-risk profile as excellent,” analysts for Standard & Poor’s wrote in their report, citing high revenues and “the strong concessionaire protections” guaranteed in the agreement.

Indications that such a windfall was possible was first explored in a joint report by our pals at The Expired Meter and CBS 2. What's more, given that meter rates will increase annually for the next three years and factoring in cost of living increases, yearly revenues on the 75-year lease could increase to as much as $162 million by 2020. (In case you need a refresher of the annual increases in parking fees, The Expired Meter has you covered.) Oh, and that Tribune poll that showed Daley's approval rating in the shitter? It also showed 80 percent of those polled still hate the deal. So here's hoping people remember these details next February while we're still mired in debt and head to the voting booth.