Surprise! The city's parking meter selloff continues to be the gift that keeps giving to -- or, more aptly, taking from -- Chicago taxpayers.
The city's latest $22 million bill from Chicago Parking Meters LLC, which now owns the city's meters, brings the city's total tab to almost $50 million -- an amount that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not having, per the Chicago Tribune.
"Just because there is a bill doesn't mean we automatically cut the checks," mayoral spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton told the Tribune via e-mail. "Since day one, it has been our top priority to fight on behalf of the taxpayers of Chicago and better manage the contract."
The mayor has balked at the meter company's previous bills issued to the city, including a $13.5 million bill the city received last December. The company has previously claimed that, per the terms of its $1.16 billion, 75-year lease to operate the city's parking meters, they can bill the city for lost revenue from an "overabundance" of drivers with handicapped license places or placards parking for free in metered spots.
The company has previously claimed that it is owed money from the city for street repairs, festivals, parades or any other happenings that take their meters out of service. The company is further expected to issue yet another hefty bill to the city due to revenue it lost during the city's hosting of the NATO summit this month -- though either the summit host committee or the Secret Service may pick up that tab.
"They got another thing coming," Emanuel told NBC Chicago of the company's previously-issued bills. "I sent them a letter back. And let me say this, in the envelope wasn't a check. I sent them back a clear and unambiguous message: No."
Despite the mayoral criticism, the company has stood by the stance that they are owed the money.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chicago Parking Meters LLC made $80 million from the city meters last year alone.