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Drivers won’t have to pay more at city parking payboxes in 2014

Street parking will still be free for blue red disabled-parking placard holders special zones like this one LaSalle Street near

Street parking will still be free for blue and red disabled-parking placard holders in special zones like this one on LaSalle Street near City Hall, but the blue and red cards no longer will entitle holders to free parking in metered spots. | Chris Fusco/Sun-Times

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Updated: February 3, 2014 2:40PM

For the first time in five years, drivers won’t have to pony up more cash at parking payboxes in Chicago.

Parking rates will hold steady in 2014 — and no new rate increases are scheduled in future years — under terms of the city’s 75-year meter-privatization deal with Chicago Parking Meters LLC.

How long rates will stay the same is unclear.

Any changes to the meter system, from rates to hours of operation to the addition and subtraction of metered spots, must be approved by the City Council, according to the agreement. And after five years of annual increases, aldermen would be hard-pressed to approve rate increases.

For $1.15 billion, paid upfront, the City Council approved a plan championed in 2008 by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley that privatized Chicago’s 36,000 meters — a deal that analysts and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have since claimed shortchanges taxpayers. Chicago Parking Meters was given the right to keep all meter revenues until 2084.

Drivers saw sharp rate increases under the first five years of the deal. For example, rates increased from $3.50 per hour downtown in 2009 to $6.50 per hour last year.

In 2008, the last year before privatization, City Hall collected $23.8 million in meter revenues. Chicago Parking Meters collected $90.2 million in the year ending Feb. 28, 2013, a 279 percent increase, records show.


Twitter: @FuscoChris

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