Co. says Chicago parking tab totals $49.5M

May 24, 2012 at 8:04 PM

CHICAGO, May 24 (UPI) -- The private company that runs Chicago's metered parking spaces says the city owes it nearly $50 million, but the city says it's refusing to pay.

The latest bill from Chicago Parking Meters LLC comes to $22 million -- to pay for a year's worth of reimbursement for free parking for vehicles that displayed disabled placards and license plates, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Illinois law has for decades allowed handicapped motorists to park free in metered zones but legislation on Gov. Pat Quinn's desk would allow only those in wheelchairs or other severely disabled people to park free in the metered spots.

The Chicago Sun-Times had previously reported CPM sent two bills to the city totaling more than $27.5 million -- one for $14 million in revenues the company said it lost when the city took meters out of service last year because of street closures, another for $13.5 million for reimbursement for free parking the company said it provided to vehicles displaying disabled placards or license plates in 2010-11.

The Tribune said the bills are based on little-known provisions in CPM's long-term contract in which the company got the right to keep all meter revenues until 2084 in exchange for a $1.15 billion upfront payment to the city. Then-Mayor Richard Daley persuaded aldermen to approve the parking meter contract 2008.

Parking rates have increased sharply since then.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is refusing to pay the $49.5 million tab CPM says it is owed and City Hall sources said he intends to dispute the latest bill, as he has previous ones.

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