Chicago City Council debates parking meter deal, taxpayers off the hook for paying water bills of non-profits

May 8, 2013 (CHICAGO)

It is a four-tiered plan that the Archdiocese of Chicago says still does not protect some of its churches.

As for the parking deal, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is getting support for his free Sunday proposal.

Although not from aldermen who represent downtown wards.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls the dreaded Daley parking meter deal he inherited worse than anyone knows.

While Emanuel managed to negotiate a settlement with the company leasing the meters to save the city $1 billion dollars, he also wants to give taxpayers back free Sunday parking in exchange for up to three extra hours of daily meter fees.

"You cannot make a bad deal a good deal. Not possible. This is a big lemon and I'm trying to squeeze a little lemonade out of it," Emanuel said.

Several aldermen, including 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, call the Sunday swap for longer days a sour deal.

"If you're someone who lives in the neighborhood and likes to come downtown from time to time and take in a dinner and movie you will be paying for that free Sunday parking," Reilly said.

While the parking plan needs to be worked out, the City Council did pass a revised ordinance that would make non-profits pay for water.

Those with assets less than $1 million would be exempt.

"Northwestern or University of Chicago or University of Chicago Hospitals are the not the same as a store-front church," Emanuel said.

The Archdiocese of Chicago says it is a balance that is unfair to individual parishes because the archdiocese owns all church property. Their assets on paper are more than $1 million.

Archdiocese Chancellor Jimmy Lago went to City Council Tuesday to ask for help to protect some of his churches.

Budget committee chairman alderman Carrie Austin says something will be worked out to help individual parishes that cannot afford to pay water bills.

In the meantime, several aldermen are still undecided about the mayor's parking proposal.

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