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City fines and fees double, triple for minor and major offenses

Rahm Emanuel meets with Sun-Times editorial board Friday. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Rahm Emanuel meets with the Sun-Times editorial board on Friday. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 8, 2011 8:08AM



Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said his plan to raise taxes, fines and fees by $220 million in 2012 includes higher fines for a laundry list of offenses, but he has yet to air that laundry list.

Now, the mayor’s 2012 revenue ordinance makes the details public. It’s a doozy.

If your car is impounded for carrying drugs, driving drunk, soliciting a prostitute or carrying a firearm registered to someone other than the driver, the penalty will double — to $2,000. But, if the violations occur within 500 feet of a park or school, the fine will triple — to $3,000.

If your car is seized for drag racing on Chicago streets, there’s a new, $1,000 fine in addition to the towing and storage fee. For playing a radio too loud, the new fine will be anywhere from $500 to $750.

If the vehicle is snatched for driving with a suspended or revoked license or displaying altered temporary registration permits, the fine would double — to $1,000. Vehicles towed after being used in an unlawful attempt to flee or elude police officers would also double — to $2,000.

Tampering with parking meters or pay-and-display boxes — something motorists have done on occasion to vent their anger at the deal that privatized Chicago parking meters — would carry a fine ranging from $500 to $750.

The mayor isn’t just throwing the book at criminals.

He’s also raising nuisance fines. They include:

†Allowing weeds to grow to a height that exceeds 10 inches — $600-to-$1,200-a-day, up from $500-to-$1,000.

†Illegal dumping or allowing trash to accumulate in a way that provides a food supply for rats — $300-to-$600, up from $250-to-$500.

†Accumulation of materials or junk on any open lot or other premises not placed on open racks “elevated not less than 18 inches above ground”: $300-to-$600, up from $250-to-$500.

†Failure to maintain vacant lots and keep them clear of debris: $300-to-$600.

†Neglecting to register or renew registration of a vacant building: $500.

The revenue ordinance introduced at last week’s City Council meeting also ends the bargain fee that Chicago businesses have paid to create loading zones that tie up traffic or deprive other motorists of on-street spaces.

In the Central Business District, there’ll be an annual fee of $500 for up to 20 linear feet of curb space used and $50 for every linear foot above that amount.

Outside the downtown area, the loading zone fees will be $110 for up to 20 linear feet of curb space and $50-per-foot after that.

The mayor’s budget also includes a plan to raise the city’s hotel tax, impose a $2-weekday congestion fee on downtown and River North parking; double water and sewer rates over the next four years and lock in annual cost-of-living increases after that.

And thanks to a budget compromise aimed at appeasing Chicago aldermen, there will be an across-the-board increase in city sticker fees. The only exceptions will be senior citizens and motorcycle riders.



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