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Aldermen Coalition: Parking Meter Group Could Earn $9 Million More Annually From New Meter Deal

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 31, 2013 7:30PM

"Curse you, parking meter!" (Photo Credit: Rolour Garcia)

The nine aldermen who make up the Chicago Progressive Reform Coalition released a report Thursday that indicates Chicago Parking Meters LLC could make an extra $9 million annually as a result of the changes to their contract to manage the city's parking meters negotiated with the Emanuel administration last month.

As DNAInfo Chicago notes, that would result in up to $360 million in new revenues for Chicago Parking Meters LLC over the remaining 71 years of the deal. And that isn't even the conservative estimate—the parking meter group has raised rates like clockwork, every year since the deal went into effect.

Most of those projections come from the trade of free neighborhood parking on Sundays for an extra hour of metered parking on weekdays and three more hours in River North and Downtown, which has led some aldermen, notably 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly, to lobby to keep the parking meter deal unchanged.

The disparity in the River North meter revenues between the Emanuel plan and the alderman's report are telling. The city says CPM would earn an extra $2,200 nightly from the meters between 10 p.m. and midnight. The aldermen's report has those figures significantly higher: $10-$14,000 a night. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said the lack of transparency is "the same thing that happened in 2008" when the Daley administration pushed the bill through City Council with a cup of coffee situated between a couple piss breaks.

Fueling Waguespack's suspicions on a lack of transparency was the revelation during Finance Committee hearings earlier this week that the city's estimates were only calculated using 39 metered parking spaces on Oak Street.

Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) said he was still worried about the free parking tradeoff and would like to keep the revenues CPM would reap to a minimum. Chicago Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott said, "Will the estimates be off from the true numbers? Of course. Will it be millions more? Highly unlikely."