City Council approves parking meter plan

CHICAGO On Wednesday, the city's finance committee approved Mayor Daley's proposal to privatize parking meters in the city.

While supporters say the plan will bring about $1 billion in much-needed revenue to the city, critics say the plan is a hardship for the public.

Jim Jellissen says the city's new parking meter plan will nickel and dime him to death. Already laid off and scrambling for work, the union carpenter says parking on the street just isn't affordable anymore.

"I understand the city has to generate money somehow, but, you know, I don't know. $6.50 an hour? You know, there are people that aren't working for much more than that," said Jim Jellissen, motorist.

Motorists will pay $6.50 an hour by the year 2013 to feed downtown parking meters under Mayor Daley's plan to privatize nearly 36,000 parking meters. The deal has some support and some criticism.

"There could have been a lot of the things that the elected officials could have done instead of just the financial folk and the bureaucrats and the lawyers from the city. And I think that was a disservice not only to the residents of the city of Chicago but also to their representatives, and that's what made a lot of us upset," said Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th Ward. W

While the 75-year lease would bring more than $1 billion into the city's coffers, it would also mean higher parking rates and no free parking on holidays.

Spots that used to cost a quarter or two would increase to $1 and $1 spots would increase to $2. In the downtown business district, parking would increase from $3 to $3.50.

Although 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney says he is concerned about the plan's effects on neighborhood businesses, he still thinks it's good for the city.

"I think leaving the control and the pricing still up to the local aldermen is key to passing this ordinance today," said Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th Ward.

Some aldermen in support of the plan say they hope people will use the CTA more.

The city will most likely use the revenue from the plan to try to stave off any layoffs or tax increases for 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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