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Time To Steel Yourselves For This Year's Fee Hikes

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 3, 2013 10:00PM

Your water bills are going up this year, homeowners.
The new year brings with it a litany of new fees and rate hikes for homeowners, drivers and people doing business with departments in city, county and state governments.

For city homeowners the most painful increase will be in your water and sewer bills. You can expect a 15 percent increase in water rates and a 3 percent increase in sewer charges. The Emanuel administration expects to raise $109.5 million from the increase, which is supposed to be earmarked to repairing the century old system held together by gum, bailing wire and, in some cases, hollowed logs.

Parking rates will increase for the fifth straight year since the parking meter privatization went into effect. (Thank you, Mayor Daley, for this ongoing case of municipal herpes.) Parking rates downtown will now cost $6.50 for an hour while outlying neighborhoods will cost $2 per hour to park. . To think we only have another 70 years of this deal.

The speeding camera program is expected to be implemented this year. Today marks the end of speeding cameras in four zones across the city. The Emanuel administration has long advocated for the program as a safety initiative, but there’s no doubt they’re also hoping the cameras will lead to a filling of the city’s coffers. The Tribune writes the city expects to raise $20 to $30 million in added revenue once the program launches. The city’s recent plan to buy electricity in bulk is expected to cut the average electricity bill by an average of $28.

On the county side of fees and taxes, the remainder of the penny tax hike pushed into law by former County Board President Todd Stroger will be rolled back. That’s probably the only good news in a series of county tax hikes intended to balance the budget. County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s budget calls for a $25 tax on every firearm purchased in Cook County; a $1 increase in the cigarette tax; an $800 charge to every new video gambling machine in Cook County and a $5 fee for every “confirmation of death” letter from the county morgue. The combination of tax hikes and fees is expected to generate $41.7 million in revenue, but rolling back the sales tax will cost the county $86 million.

On the state level new rate hikes include a “live adult entertainment surcharge” amounting to $3 per person to gentlemen’s clubs across the state. The revenue generated from this will help fund programs for sexual assault programs in Illinois whose funding was previously gutted by the General Assembly.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is implementing a series of small fees and surcharges ranging from slightly higher fees for state permits and registrations to usage fees on state parks that will go to ongoing operations and maintenance for state parks.