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Chicago Parking Meter Revenue Surged $30 Million In 2012, City Council To Take Up Deal Tweaks

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Cars speed past a Chicago parking meter kiosk across the street from St. Alphonsus Catholic Church Monday, April 29, 2013 on Chicago's North Side.
Cars speed past a Chicago parking meter kiosk across the street from St. Alphonsus Catholic Church Monday, April 29, 2013 on Chicago's North Side.

With Chicago's City Council set to get another crack at the city's unpopular parking meter deal, a new report reveals that Chicago Parking Meters LLC, the company currently in control of the city's meters, enjoyed a $30 million surge in meter revenue last year.

According to new financial reports, gross parking meter revenue in Chicago rose from $108 million in 2011 to more than $139 million last year -- an increase of nearly 29 percent in one year, DNAinfo Chicago reports.

CPM's 2012 revenue is an even bigger increase over the approximately $24 million the city made off the meters in 2008, the last year they managed the meters prior to the signing of a $1.2 billion, 75-year privatization deal, according to NBC Chicago.

"At some point you have to laugh at how much revenue they're bringing in," Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), one of just five aldermen to vote against the meter lease in 2008, told DNAinfo.

The revenue news came one day ahead of the City Council having its first discussion on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed tweaks to the meter deal, including free parking on Sundays and extended meter hours every other day, most dramatically in the River North area.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), whose ward includes the River North area that will see meter hours extended by three hours and will not be privy to free Sunday parking, told ABC Chicago he is no fan of the mayor's plan and has been voicing his concerns with his council colleagues.

"Nothing is free. This amounts to taking money out of your right pocket and putting it in your left," Reilly told the station.

In another last-minute tweak to the meter deal that surfaced Tuesday, Emanuel is aiming to return 16 surface parking lots located throughout the city to city control, most of them located on the city's North Side. In exchange, CPM will gain 938 on-street parking spaces -- largely located in Reilly's River North-area ward, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

The tweak will cost the city $1 million a year, but Emanuel's office is claiming the city will still save money in the long haul thanks to the tradeoff, Crain's reports.

Emanuel previously described his proposal as making the deal -- a "straitjacket on the city" -- "a little less bad for the next seven decades" as part of a settlement over the $50 million CPM said the city owes it for meters taken out of service due to street closures or special events.

The lease has been responsible for making Chicago home to the most expensive meter parking in the nation as of this year.

Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" asked the question of whether Emanuel's office had withheld crucial information about the tweaked deal from the City Council:

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