Chicagoans already bear an incredible economic burden of a weak economy, record foreclosures, increasing property taxes, and the highest retail sales tax in the entire country.
More specifically, when it comes to motor vehicles, Chicagoans pay some of the highest gas taxes in the nation, a $75 annual city sticker fee and were hit with almost 3 million tickets in 2007 generating $164 million in revenue.
Over the last few years, the city has installed red light cameras at over 100 intersections, with revenue expected to hit $50 million in 2008, with many more cameras on the way. Street sweepers are being equipped with ticket cameras and high tech boot vans prowl the streets of the city scanning hundreds of license plates an hour in search of boot eligible vehicles.
All of the above is challenging and make living in Chicago already a very expensive proposition.
But now Mayor Daley wants to tighten the screws even more on a populace that is already struggling to make it from one paycheck to the next. His most recent plan is nearly unbearable to an already over-taxed constituency.
Daley wants to reduce the number of tickets in final determination needed for a vehicle to be booted, from a paltry three tickets, to an unconscionable two!
Years ago the booting threshold used to be ten. It then got chopped in half to five tickets and most recently, it has been three. It's remained at three tickets for a long time.
Three is already too few. But two ... two is just way too few.
First, parking tickets in general disproportionately target and hurt the poor and middle-class. The reason is people with money can afford a garage, parking lot or some other type of off-street parking and therefore receive fewer tickets than the poor and middle class.
Even so, the poor and middle class have fewer financial resources to pay their tickets and are going to have a harder time trying to keep no more than a single ticket on the books so they don't become boot eligible.
My feeling is that if ticket fines were less and people actually had the means to pay their tickets, most people would want to pay their outstanding violations. But the economic times have conspired to make paying their tickets even lower on people's list of financial priorities.
Obviously, King Daley cannot sympathize with the problems of his formerly loyal subjects. Perhaps Daley, a man who has his own chauffeur to drive him wherever he goes, probably has only had to feed a parking meter a handful of times in his life. We believe Daley has no experience with what it's like to drive a car in Chicago, and certainly cannot identify with the common person, at least not on this issue.
Second, Daley's plan is really a three-pronged approach to raising revenue. Obviously, if the two ticket plan goes through, hundreds of thousands of drivers automatically will be in danger of being booted and therefore will be forced to pay at least one ticket to keep the boot away.
But there is a much more insidious side to Daley's plan. That's because, not only will more people be forced to pay their tickets, it also means open booting season on anyone that has or gets that second ticket.
Immediately, revenue derived from the increased booting volume will increase substantially. Because the city makes money from that $60 booting fee.
More booted cars means more towed vehicles, and again more revenue for the city via the $110+ fees for towing and storage at one of Chicago's fine auto-pounds.
So, not only will more tickets be paid, but more vehicles booted and towed. Revenue increases via all three revenue streams.
Third, the Chicago motorist already pays a disproportionate amount of fines, fees and taxes to prop up Daley's already bloated budget.
Enough is enough.
The solution to Daley's budget deficit is NOT to make up the shortfall on the backs of motorists. Instead, he needs to do what every other person in these troubled economic times is doing and that's tighten the city's belt and cut expenses.
The rest of us, individuals and businesses, find ways to spend less and save money. To his credit, Daley is doing a little of this, but he needs to do a lot more--and not just look to drivers for the cash.
In addition, the mayor is proposing that collection costs on unpaid parking tickets get passed on to the vehicle owners. Already, if a fine goes unpaid 21 days after Final Determination, the fine doubles. So that $50 ticket is now $100. Is a 200% penalty not enough? Is it fair that another proposed 22% premium be tacked on as well?!? When does it ever end?!?
If you agree that enough is enough, sign the on-line petition below and contact your alderman.
Pass on this link to your friends and family.
Make your voice heard. Say NO! to two-ticket boot eligibility.
If we, as a city, don't make our voices heard on this issue, Daley will again get his way and boots will be blooming like a field of dandelions in your neighborhood and possibly immobilize your car.
For more news and information about parking issues and tips on fighting parking tickets, check out The Expired Meter.com.
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