Feeding the Meter? Bring a Buck

Privatized parking helps city budget, hurts yours

It's not news that Mayor Richard Daley plans to lease parking meters to help balance the city's budget, but the Tribune's Clout Street reported Tuesday that that plan is likely to raise parking rates to $1 an hour in most neighborhoods.

The longterm lease with a private company for the city's 35,000 parking meters was a gamble that's earning a big payoff for city coffers: a reported $150 million dollars to help bridge a $469 million budget gap.

The Tribune reported that the $1.1 billion to the city will come from Chicago Parking Meter LLC, which is made up of two Morgan Stanley infrastructure funds.

The sale of yet another city asset means motorists will almost certainly have to pay even higher prices during peak periods in congested areas in exchange for more cashless payment and pay-by-phone options.

Based on net parking revenues of $19.5 million in 2007, the city could be in line for an up-front fee similar to the 99-year, $1.83 billion Chicago Skyway. In exchange, the city and Park District would wash their hands of the parking meter headache.

The Chicago Tribune has the full story.

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