Mayor: Parking meter company sent city inaccurate bills

May 4, 2012 3:31:36 PM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has accused the company that leases Chicago's parking meters of failing to document a $14 million bill for parking spaces that the city took out of service.

Emanuel is not convinced that bills sent the city by the company Chicago Parking Meters LLC are either accurate or legal. And he says until they are proven so, the invoices will not be paid.

"Just because you send a bill, I'm not going to ask the taxpayers to pay it," he said. "There's a new day here. I don't know who they think they're dealing with."

Emanuel vowed he would not pay the private investors who leased the city's parking meters another dime without more detailed documentation.

"Now they may have thought they could send a bill and we're going to pay, well, I'm just not going to do it," he said. "Second of all, you owe information to justify it, and I don't think the information when you're providing is accurate."

The dispute involves parking spaces on city streets closed for repairs, festivals, parades and other reasons. Chicago Parking Meters LLC is demanding $14 million the company claims the metered spaces would have generated had they remained in service.

The firm, which paid over a billion dollars to lease the parking system, previously submitted a $13.5 million invoice for spaces used by drivers with disabilities who were not required to feed the meters until the benefit was ended last year.

"Nobody wants to be a deadbeat, but you want to make sure that the bill is correct and the justification is correct," said Ald. Ray Suarez, 31st Ward. "That's really important."

Suarez and 39 other alderman voted for the 75-year parking meter lease in late 2008. Then-Mayor Richard Daley, who now works for the law firm that negotiated the deal for the city, pushed it through in only 72 hours.

Last month, the Emanuel administration complained about the bills in a letter to Chicago Parking Meters saying "these invoices are also legally and factually erroneous and attempt to charge the city for 'adjustments' that are not due under the agreement."

"They may assume that's how it's going to work but they got another think coming," the mayor said. "They got a letter back that clearly defines what their responsibilities are and they have not been holding up their side."

The spokeswoman for Chicago Parking Meters told ABC7 the company would have no comment. Likewise, the mayor would not say to what extent the city was prepared to use the legal system in the dispute.

Earlier this week the mayor was upbeat about saving $30 million over the next six years on a new labor agreement. The parking meter company is demanding the city pay nearly that much immediately as part of the lease deal.


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