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How Daley and his crew hid their process from the public, ignored their own rules, railroaded the City Council, and screwed the taxpayers on the parking meter lease deal
No one in Chicago has been happy about the recent hike in parking meter rates, but by last week the frustration had become outrage, and the outrage had become a political problem. Since the city's speedy decision in December to lease the meters for 75 years in return for about $1.2 billion in quick cash, what you get for your quarter has declined precipitously. Worse, residents are fed up with the tickets they're receiving thanks to broken meters and outdated labeling. Some are boycotting meters by parking on side streets or not driving at all; others have tagged or vandalized them.
It's being called "The Parking Meter" budget. That's because Mayor Daley, had to pillage the vast majority of the cash reserves generated from last year's parking meter lease deal, in order to balance the 2010 budget.
He said aldermen were promised that the administration would save enough of the proceeds that the interest on them would equal or exceed the $20 million the city was accustomed to collecting from the meters. Instead, Daley's budget will burn through two-thirds of the replacement fund in a single year. "We have lost the replacement money," Allen said. "You cannot break a contract in 12 months that is supposed to last for 75 years. It is unconscionable, irresponsible, and it is disingenuous."
Daley's new budget will drain meter sale reserves
Chicago’s 75-year, $1.15 billion parking meter windfall would be nearly drained in just one year to provide token property tax relief and stave off tax increases, thanks to a $6.1 billion 2010 budget approved Wednesday.
Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) noted that $400 million of the parking meter proceeds were supposed to be salted away in a long-term reserve fund earning interest that would help replace the $20 million in annual parking meter revenues the city lost. “You don’t eat your seed corn,” he said.