Prepare to pay more to park, drive, commute in 2012

January 1, 2012 8:46:43 PM PST
The new year is bringing with it a host of new fees that will impact just about everyone -- even visitors to Chicago.

The cost of staying in a hotel, using garages, owning a vehicle and even driving on the Tollway are all going up. And that's just the beginning of what's turning out to be a long list of city and suburban agencies hiking fees to help cover budget deficits.

The U.S. Postal Service is increasing the cost of first-class package service on January 22. And in order for local agencies and municipalities to continue operating in the new year, they are also passing along more costs to residents.

In the new year, commuters will see a host of new fees. Illinois tolls are going up. For IPASS users, the increase will averages out to 35 cents more per toll. For motorists paying cash, that's 70 cents more.

There will also be an increase for Metra riders in February. One-way trips are going up 15.7 percent,10- rides are going up 30 percent, and monthly passes are going up 29 percent on average.

"I actually don't know what they [are] thinking when they are doing something like this. Are they actually taking the actual normal working person into consideration? Everybody don't make six figures a year," said Denise Campbell.

Once you are in the city, a new set of Chicago tax increases will go into effect. The hotel tax is going from 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent.

"It has to come from somewhere. I guess fees are better than taxes. Because, fees, you have more of a choice," said Wendy Gifford.

Chicago residents will be paying more for things like water, which goes up 25 percent next year.

That means that in 2012, the cost for an average single family home with a meter will go up about $92. By 2015, rates will double. About 130 suburbs that buy water from the city are likely to pass on the increase.

"For a family of four it's a lot," said Sue Torgeson. " For people that are just getting by, it's a lot of money for an average person to have to pay."

If you are parking downtown on weekdays, there's no escaping higher fees. Parking garages will increase the city's congestion premium. Fordaily parkers, it goes from $12 to $17 and weekly from $60 to $75. And monthly parkers will pay more. If you're paying $250 monthly, it goes up to $340.

Parking at a metered pay boxes is also going up. A typical Loop spot was $5.00 an hour. That's going up to $5.75 an hour.

"I usually keep my car up north where the parking is reasonable. I don't have to deal with it down here. It's kind of hectic to even find a parking spot to begin with," said Jeff Taylor.

Chicago residents who have vehicles, your city sticker, which was $75, is going up to $85 for small/medium vehicles and from $120 to $135 for larger vehicles.

Watch out for those city-sticker fines, too. The fine for not having a city sticker will be$200 and there will be a late fee of $60.

Something you can do to reduce your water bill in the city is to have a water meter installed.