Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a settlement yesterday between the City
of Chicago and the company currently leasing the city’s parking meters.
he’s trying to make “a little lemonade out of a big lemon”, Emanuel
claims the settlement will save taxpayers more than $1 billion
throughout the remainder of the contract, 71 years.
The deal calls
for the city to pay the leasing company, Chicago Parking Meters LLC,
$63.8 million through a series of paid parking changes across the city.
company originally demanded $61 million in reimbursements from loss of
meter revenue from free disability parking and out-of-service meters.
But under the settlement, the company won’t make similar reimbursement
claims throughout the remaining years of the contract, thus saving
taxpayer dollars over the long haul.
Emanuel has agreed to
three extra hours of paid parking in River North and one extra hour
elsewhere, in exchange for free parking on Sundays in neighborhoods
south of Roosevelt, west of Halsted and north of North Avenue.
the Chicago City Council must still vote on the changes, which, if
approved, could go into effect as early as summer 2013. Aldermen are
expected to hear the proposal on May 8.
"We cannot make this bad deal go away and make it into a good one," Emanuel said yesterday at a news conference.
The mayor’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley, signed the 75-year, $1.15 billion contract with Chicago Parking Meters LLC in 2008.
have a horrible contract, and that contract needs to be broken. The
city should be fighting [it] in court vs. chipping away at little things
here and there,” Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), one of the five aldermen to vote against the original parking meter contract, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd),
whose ward includes River North, says the contract revisions are “inherently
unfair” for downtown residents who may be forced to pay for three extra
hours of parking.
“I’m also surprised the administration does not
consider River North a neighborhood, considering it’s currently one of
the fastest-growing urban residential populations in the entire
country,” Reilly told the newspaper.
The settlement also
includes a pay-by-cell feature, slated to go into effect summer 2014,
that will allow drivers to pay for parking spaces via cell phone instead
of visiting a pay box. If less than two hours of parking are purchased
at one time, parkers will be forced to pay a 35 cent convenience fee.
is just more window dressing to let a bad deal continue ... and make
everybody feel good for the day,” Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) told the Chicago Sun-Times.