Report: Parking meters make $1M a week

November 20, 2009 10:11:08 AM PST
Chicago's parking meters are generating some major revenue-- but not for the city.A report based on company financial documents estimates that the meters, which were recently leased to a private company, are bringing in more than $1 million a week.

The report comes as the city struggles to fill a budget deficit. It estimates that for the first 2.5 months of operation, ending December 31, the company expects to make around $32 million in operating profit.

Motorist Ken Baker says he's more convinced now than ever that the city's parking meter lease deal was a bad idea.

"It was just something to get quick money; it wasn't well thought out. The city of Chicago, the patrons here are at the whim of a company making money from us instead of us making money off of us," Baker said.

The revelation comes after a new study by at least two financial experts that claims Chicago would have made out better financially in the long run had it kept the meters. The company's records project a total revenue of more than $75 million dollars for 2010.

Nevertheless, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney, who supported the sale, says he's not so sure. "If the city maintained the asset, we have projected around $40 million in revenues in year one. So that is inconsistent. The city also didn't have the money for the pay boxes, which are a cost of $8,000 a box. Time will tell, but I think it was the right deal at the right time," Tunney said.

In February, the private company Chicago Parking Meters, LLC paid the city $1.15 billion for the right to collect all parking fee revenues for 75 years.

The rate immediately quadrupled at most of the city's 36,000 meters. Still, some say, anything beats paying more taxes in these tough economic times.

"I don't think the city of Chicago needs to have a monopoly, but on the other hand, if it's versus tax dollars, then certainly I'd rather see the privatization of parking meters or the water department than see my taxes go up if I'm a Chicago citizen," Brian Page said.

The parking meter company that owns the lease has yet to respond to this study.

The city attempted to cut a $2.5 billion deal to lease Midway Airport to a private company, but the deal fell through.

Many people that spoke with ABC7 said everybody will take a hit, and though they don't want to pay any more, they say we are doing the best we can.


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