Motorists’ Wallets Will Suffer In New Year
Car owners always seem to be the fall guys when local governments can’t balance their budgets.
Perhaps in no year is this more true than in 2012 when drivers will see an avalanche of fees, fines and cost increases to help bring in much needed revenue to cash starved government.
Here’s The Expired Meter’s roundup of the many cost increases drivers should expect to see when we ring in the new year.
Parking Meter Rates
Of course, 2012 marks the fourth year of Chicago’s infamous parking meter lease deal and, not coincidentally, the fourth straight year of parking meter rate increases across the city.
Downtown meters will jump 75 cents an hour from their current $5 to $5.75 per hour, while immediately outside that zone meters go up 50 cents an hour to $3.50 per hour, while everywhere else in the city drivers will be paying an extra 25 cents per hour or $1.75 per hour.
Motorists who use the Illinois Tollway to get anywhere will also be seeing a serious increase in toll rates starting January 1st.
Possibly making up for the fact that tolls have not been increased in 28 years, the Illinois Tollway Authority voted in August to increase both the cost of tolls for I-PASS users and drivers paying cash.
Drivers with I-PASS accounts will see increases ranging from 15 cents to as much as 90 cents, with the average toll for I-PASS users rising from 40 cents to 75 cents–an 86% increase.
Drivers paying cash, who were already paying double the I-PASS rate will see even steeper increases ranging from 30 cents to $1.80 more per toll, but with most the average toll increasing from the current 80 cents to $1.50–also an 87% increase.
Chicago City Stickers
After some back and forth between Mayor Rahm Emanuel, City Clerk Susana Mendoza and City Council members, instead of jacking up city stickers on heavier vehicles like SUVs only, city sticker fees will go up for all vehicle owners. Aldermen along with their constituents and the City Clerk all understandably resisted the Mayor’s trick which would have re-classified nearly 200,000 cars into SUVs by lowering the weight threshold from 4500 lbs. to 4000 lbs.
Beginning in late May, most vehicle owners will see their annual city sticker fee increase $10 from the current $75 to $85.
Larger passenger vehicles (weighing over 4500 lbs.) will get a $15 bump from $120 to $135. The cost for pickup truck and smaller truck city stickers jump $20 to $200 and larger trucks will pay a $450 city sticker fee next year–a $30 increase.
$2 Parking Fee
Mayor Emanuel says, his new $2 per day fee for people parking at parking lots and garages will reduce congestion.
In reality, it will generate millions of dollars in revenue for the city and possibly give tourists one more reason not to spend their money in our city.
Beyond the steep fine increase for not having a Chicago city sticker on your car, there are other fine increases for parking tickets and other driving related fines in Chicago.
Expired meter tickets in the Central Business District (essentially downtown) will bump up from $50 to $60, while the fine will remain at the $50 rate everywhere else.
And make sure you slap that residential parking permit guest pass on your windshield when visiting friends in RPP zones around the city. Fines for RPP violations will go from $60 to $75.
And don’t get caught driving with a revoked or suspended drivers license in 2012. The fine is doubling from $500 to $1000.
Violating the city’s ordinance on abusing a disability parking placard or handicap license plate and you could be facing a fine of between $1500 to $3000–a very steep increase over the current $200 fine.
Having your car impounded is going to cost you more in 2012 too. If you get arrested while driving and your car is impounded, that fee will double from $1000 to $2000 or if you’re arrested within 500 feet of a school it will set you back $3000–and that’s not including.
The Mayor says speed cameras are about improving pedestrian safety.
Everyone else knows they’re about revenue. Lot’s of revenue.
If Governor Quinn signs the speed camera bill and if the Mayor can get it passed through the City Council, red light cameras around the city could be issuing speeding violations as early as July of 2012.
While the cameras would be operating only during weekdays and from 6 AM to 8:30 PM (9 PM on Fridays) issuing $50 fines for exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph and $100 fines for going 16 mph or faster, the cameras will still generate millions of dollars on the backs of Chicago drivers.
Our advice to drivers is to go cheap on the champagne this New Year’s Eve. Grab the Andre, Cook’s or Korbel instead of the Dom Perignon this holiday, because you’ll need the extra money in the new year.
Photo courtesy and copyright of Mandie’s Flickr site.