How much did people pay to park in Chicago last year?
Good question. And one that so far has no (public) answer.
While language in the 2008 contract requires Chicago Parking Meters LLC to turn over revenue data to the city by April 30 of each year, a city spokeswoman said Monday the required documents have yet to be handed over.
In 2008, the last year the city operated the 36,000 old fashioned parking meters, the figure was just over $23 million.
In 2011 parkers paid more than $109 million in fees.
The increase was courtesy of the 75 year deal crafted by then-Mayor Richard Daley. The city got a one time, $1.2 billion payment. The private company, Chicago Parking Meters, LLC., got pretty much every nickel, dime, quarter and dollar bill paid to park for the next 75 years.
Last week Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a negotiated settlement with the company. Sunday parking would be free in most neighborhoods. Longer hours would be the rule for most meters.
And the city and the company agreed to a deal, the mayor said, that would save taxpayers $1 billion over the term of the contract for lost revenue for meters taken out of service.
The mayor is expected to introduce his plan to the City Council on Wednesday.
But the reception could be tepid. A number of aldermen say they have been asking for all kinds of numbers and have not been given the information.
In 2008, only five aldermen voted against the Daley deal. Scott Waguespack (32nd) was one of them, and this time around, he says the council needs some backbone.
"The city council needs to step up and tell the mayor he should be fighting the meter deal, that he should be walking into court saying we want to do everything we can to cut this deal and get rid of it," he said in a recent interview.
After the city collected the $23 million in 2008 and the private company took over, revenue jumped.
In 2009, under Chicago Parking Meters LLC, revenue rose to $49.4 million. In 2010, the figure reached $73.2 million. And in 2011 total revenue was $109.4 million.
Downtown parking rose to $6.50 an hour earlier this year.
And the price will keep going up.
"The price is going to keep going up," said Waguespack. "They’ve got it built in for inflation. Over the years those dollars will increase."
Just how much they increased from 2011 to 2012 though remains a mystery.