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Mayor Disputing $13.5M Bill For Disabled Parking

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Parking Meter Pay Box

A Chicago parking meter pay box. (CBS)

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Updated 12/13/11 – 2:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel says – for now – he is holding off on paying $13.5 million to the company that controls the city’s parking meters in connection with losses from free parking for the disabled.

WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports that the city is in talks with Chicago Parking Meters LLC to lower the amount of money taxpayers would have to pay to cover the lost revenue from disabled parking.

The city’s controversial lease of parking meters to Chicago Parking Meters LLC allows the company to recoup some of the revenue lost to free parking for drivers with disabled parking placards or license plates.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

The company has submitted a bill for $13.5 million for the one-year period from February 2010 to February 2011, but Emanuel said the city is not prepared to pay that sum just yet.

“Now, they may say that’s what we owe, but … I think it’s pretty clear … just because they submit it doesn’t mean that’s what we’re going to pay; and we’re contesting that right now in a series of matters and discussions with the company,” Emanuel said.

The mayor has been pushing for a crackdown on abuse of disabled parking placards by stiffening penalties for drivers who use fake, stolen or altered disability placards, imposing fines of $500 to $1,000.

Motorists who fraudulently use legitimate disabled driver cards could have their cars impounded, which would bring an additional $2,000 fine, plus $150 towing fee and $10 daily storage charge.

“Those who violate it and, in my view, infringe on the rights for people that have disabilities, the right that they have there to be protected; and we will also be clear to the company that just because they submit something doesn’t mean that we think that they’re totally accurate,” Emanuel said.

While officials can’t say how many disabled parking placards used in Chicago are fake or otherwise fraudulent, the City Council is expected to approve the crackdown on Wednesday.

A City Council committee endorsed the plan on Monday.

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