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Downtown Parking Garages Would Carry Higher Tax Under Emanuel Budget

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(CBS File Photo)

(CBS File Photo)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Get ready to pay more to park your car in the city’s Central Business District. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling for a new “congestion premium” at downtown parking lots and garages.

It’s another painful part of his 2012 budget blueprint. And, as CBS 2′s Mike Parker reports, drivers are sounding off about the plan.

Emanuel calls the increase in the parking fee a “congestion premium.”

“On a typical work day, our central business district is jammed with vehicles, which makes it harder to do business,” Emanuel said in his budget address on Wednesday. “So I’m proposing a downtown congestion premium of $2 a day – only on weekdays – for parking garages and lots downtown and in River North.”

It might not sound like very much, but if you’re one of the many drivers who come into the city to work, it adds up – $2 a day becomes $10 dollars a week, or $40 a month.

Suburban motorist Kathleen Wilson said she’s not willing to pay the extra money to park downtown.

“I think it’s ridiculous. I mean, the mayor wants … they want people to come downtown to enjoy the downtown area. How can you pay? It’s $32, $34, $35 a day. It’s crazy,” she said.

The mayor said that the $27 million raised each year from the so-called “congestion premium” would go to help out the CTA and encourage the use of public transportation.

Chicagoan Chauntal Howard said she would “definitely” be more inclined to take public transportation.

“That’s too much money – $2 dollars? $10 a week? Taxes are going up over everything,” she said.

If you pay for parking downtown on a weekly basis, the extra tax per week would go from $15 to $25. The tax on high-end monthly garage spaces could increase from $60 to $100 dollars.

“He should cut things instead of raising our taxes,” motorist Wayne Dower said. When told Emanuel’s budget does include cutbacks, Dower said, “He should cut some more.”

Emanuel acknowledged his budget plans would be painful for some people, but said, “Let us come together, let us work together and let us show the world, no matter how tough the times get, we Chicagoans are tougher.”

Downtown and River North business interests are likely not going to support this proposal, since it might discourage suburban shoppers from driving into the city.

But the mayor believes that, like downtown workers, those shoppers will take the train instead.

Aldermen will begin holding hearings next week with city department heads to go over each individual department’s budget plan before voting on a final budget before the end of the year.

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