Congestion Parking Fee Won’t Just Sock Downtown Drivers

CHICAGO (CBS) — New concerns have erupted over Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s planned congestion premium – the extra $2 tax at downtown parking lots and garages suggested as part of his budget plan.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, some aldermen say the tax unfairly targets more than just rush-hour drivers downtown.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports

As it is, a parking garage at Clark and Lake streets charges $21 per day, and that is for the early morning special. Mayor Emanuel says the $2 fee on top of that steep price is to get people who drive downtown during rush hour to pay more.

But the plan doesn’t specify time of day. That means even when traffic is light in the night and early morning, drivers would still be subject to pay more.

Another confusing factor in this proposal that has aldermen upset is that the plan does not set geographic boundaries for the tax.

When the plan was brought up, the mayor said it would apply to lots around downtown that charge the most, but any places that charge more than $12 would be see the extra $2 imposed.

Thus, even if you don’t work downtown, but you come into the city to watch a game at the United Center, Wrigley Field, or U.S. Cellular Field, you can expect to pay more.

One Chicagoan, Gerald Latham, said the fee would just be too expensive.

“All those places too? See, I didn’t even know that. Wow, that’s too much. It’s too much. If you’re a hard-working person, they shouldn’t be jacking stuff up, especially the way the economy is these days. You know, every little bit of money counts. Everybody is fighting already for any type of penny or dollar or whatnot, but to do that to somebody that’s a hard-working person? That’s ridiculous.”

Theresa Kunach of the White Palace Grill called the congestion tax “unfair” and “ridiculous.”

Budget Vice-Chairman Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said earlier this week that he would rather the congestion tax would be applied only during the day, but his colleagues may not feel so strongly.

“It is a substantial source of revenue for the city – close to $28 million annually – so I think many of my colleagues are resigned to the fact there will be a parking tax,” Reilly said this week.

But now, aldermen who are against the plan are saying they will try to amend it so if focuses more on the rush hour when there is a lot of congestion.

Emanuel’s budget has already passed out of the Budget and Finance committees, and is set for a full City Council vote on Nov. 16.

  • trishd

    My shopping is all done in the suburbs now as more and more people are doing! Chicago is just way too expensive for everything. The city has been taxed to death. WHY aren’t politicians taking paycuts mr. mayor????????????

  • Roberta Waker

    Good by, Chicago. There is NOTHING I would pay extra money for in the theaters, United Center, hotels, restaurants, etc. There are too many good places outside the city limits that don’t charge for parking and rape you with taxes. Maybe when people stop going into the downtown area; they will get the message.

  • Just One More Day Until Vote On Mayor Emanuel’s Budget « CBS Chicago

    […] and garages. While the mayor says the goal is to reduce the number of rush hour motorists downtown, some aldermen argue that the tax would also hit motorists parking in lots and garages elsewhere in t… Aldermen also complained about the cuts Emanuel proposed to the library system, but in lieu of […]

  • City Council Set For Vote On Mayor Emanuel’s First Budget « CBS Chicago

    […] Some aldermen have complained about features of Mayor Emanuel’s 2012 budget, including a $2 congestion fee for parking in lots and garages. While the mayor says the goal is to reduce the number of rush hour motorists downtown, some aldermen argue that the tax would also hit motorists parking in lots and garages elsewhere in t… […]

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