LINCOLN SQUARE — Ald. Ameya Pawar's (47th) proposal to create an independent budget office has been stuck in committee since he introduced the ordinance in December.
The latest reworking of the city's much-maligned parking meter contract is "all the more reason" for the City Council to take up the legislation, Pawar said.
"We're relying on the numbers the mayor's office is providing," the alderman said. The city council "needs to have its own check to verify what's being put forward. There's no staff person or an office for us to turn to."
Having yet to see the actual language of the parking meter contract, which trades free parking on Sundays for extended parking hours downtown, Pawar is wary of the deal crafted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The council is expected to set eyes on the contract Wednesday.
"City Council wasn't at the table," he said. "It's hard for me to go back to my constituents and say, 'This is the best we can do.' We weren't even involved."
Once the council receives a copy of the contract, Pawar said aldermen have 30 days to vote "up or down" on the deal, with no opportunity to suggest alternatives, whereas the mayor's team has "been working on this for a year and a half."
"All they're saying is 'vote yes or no based on what we negotiated,'" he said. Aldermen are being told, "If you vote 'no,' it's a vote for the status quo. That doesn't make sense to me."
Were aldermen given the ability to craft their own solution, dipping into the city's Infrastructure Trust to buy back the parking meters might have been on the table, Pawar said. Another idea: the council could pass a privatization tax to recoup some of the revenues collected by Chicago Parking Meters LLC.
"I could have had more faith in the process if we were brought in on the front end," Pawar said.