10/15/2012 10:16 am ET

Chicago Parking Meter Deal Audit: Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wants A Closer Look At Firm

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling for an outside audit of the city's unpopular -- and expensive -- parking meter deal.

The audit is part of the mayor's call for a closer look at many of the city's long-term contracts -- including Chicago Parking Meters LLC's 75-year, $1.15 billion lease of the city's parking meters, a deal set into motion by then-Mayor Richard Daley in 2008.

"These comprehensive, regular audits will help ensure accountability and keep those behind the agreements honest and responsible," Emanuel said in a statement, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Chicago Tribune reports that an independent auditor is going to be looking into the parking meter company's revenue to ensure that its revenue collections match the number of meters the city has and that it is meeting the city's standards for minority-owned subcontractors. The audit is expected to begin in November.

The city has been locking horns with the meter company since Emanuel took office last year.

In December, the company billed the city $13.5 million for potential revenue it claimed it lost due to street closures, repairs and other happenings that take their meters out of service. In response, the mayor said that he refused to "write blank checks to companies that say that's what we owe. Just because they submit it doesn't mean that's what we're going to pay, and we're contesting that."

This summer, the meter company said the city is on the hook for a total of about $50 million, an amount that the mayor's office, again, balked at.

Parking prices in the city have increased since the lease was approved. By next year, it will cost $6.50 to park for an hour in the Loop, according to CBS Chicago. The deal also ended free parking on weekends and holidays.

According to the Associated Press, Emanuel said the city's leases of the Chicago Skyway and its lakefront parking garages will also be audited.

Photo by David Hilowitz via Flickr.