Savvy drivers know they can often save money by reserving their parking at downtown garages before they get there.
"It's very convenient," says parking-app user Julie Eppolito. "Keep driving around, lots are full and stuff."
Apps like SpotHero and ParkWhiz started in Chicago and have expanded around the country.
But now Cook County is eyeing the apps as a new source of tax revenue.
Sergio Delgado says he uses the apps every time he comes downtown.
"That's just crazy," he said of the possible tax.
Two months ago, the county board approved a one and three quarter percent tax on the apps, but some members, including board president and mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle, have argued that the apps should be paying six percent--the same rate charged to garage owners and operators.
"It's not a healthy thing for our business model," said SpotHero spokeswoman Natalie Bauer Luce. "It isn’t a healthy thing for our user’s pocketbooks and its not a healthy thing for the tech community in general in terms of consistency and predictability."
ParkWhiz says it supports a fair tax rate that accurately reflects its business model as a mobile payment facilitator and marketplace. The company says it will continue to work with the county to find a fair and reasonable tax policy that makes sense for its customers and its business.
But drivers say there is nothing reasonable about more taxes in a county with one of the highest sales taxes in the nation.
"Cause then nobody would want to park around here at all," says app user Luis Espino. "Plus, there is no parking around here. So why even tax it?"
Espino's not alone. David Hernandez also uses parking apps.
"It’s a reliable source and easy to find parking and everything like that," he said. "Cause coming to the city, it's $46 dollars to park, and you can plan ahead with SpotHero but taxing it--I don’t agree with that."
Kierre Purchase--another driver who uses the popular apps--was succinct.
"Oh no, we are taxed enough," she said. "Don’t Chicago got enough taxes?"