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Mayor Praises Parking Meter Reprieve, but Again Disses Overall Deal

By Ted Cox | January 23, 2013 2:43pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he'd make the 60-day reprieve from parking meter increases 60 years if he could.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he'd make the 60-day reprieve from parking meter increases 60 years if he could.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CHICAGO — The mayor said city drivers could save $1 million in the up to 60-day reprieve from parking-meter increases — and he again slapped the overall 75-year parking meter deal as "wrong."

"If it were up to me, we'd have a 60-year reprieve, not just 60 days," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.

Chicago Parking Meters was entitled to impose the fifth increase in five years at the start of 2013, but thus far has delayed shifting the meters over. The delay was reported first at DNAinfo.com Chicago by The Expired Meter.

Meters could charge $6.50 an hour downtown, the highest rate in the nation. The areas surrounding the downtown business district could see increases from $3.50 to $4 an hour, and neighborhood rates were to go from $1.75 to $2 an hour.

But LAZ Parking, handling street operations for CPM, has not shifted the meters over yet. They have until the end of February to impose the increases.

Some have speculated the delay is part of ongoing negotiations over $60 million in contested bills CPM has submitted to the city and Emanuel has refused to pay. The bills charge the city for revenue lost to road construction, street festivals and the like.

Emanuel denied Wednesday that there's any horse trading going on in the matter.

"There's been no quid pro quo," he said. "I can't tell you why they've decided to postpone. But I've been pretty clear about [how] you can send me those bills, but I've got a real disagreement with all those bills, mainly because I do think this is a bad contract that was wrong for the city and wrongly designed."

The city got $1.16 billion up front for the deal in 2008, but Mayor Richard M. Daley spent most of that over the next two years to fill budget gaps. In 2009, David Hoffman, then city inspector general, issued a report estimating the city got almost $1 billion less than the meter deal was worth.