Parking Meter Company Sends City New Bill For $22 Million
According to Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, a lot of disabled drivers are parking for free at metered parking spaces around the city. Millions of dollars worth.
CPM says it’s cost them $22 million in revenue in 2011 according to a story in today’s Chicago Tribune.
Per the parking meter lease agreement, approved by the vast majority of the Chicago City Council and signed by Mayor Daley in December of 2008, the meter company can bill the city when the number of drivers utilizing handicap license plates or disability parking placards exceeds a set percentage.
A week ago, CPM submitted their bill to the city for $22 million to compensate the company for disabled parkers just for 2011. The company invoiced the city $13 million for the same item in 2010.
The weakness with this aspect of the meter lease contract is that it allows for the meter company to provide documentation and the invoicing for the disabled drivers parking at no cost.
It is a perfect example of the proverbial fox guarding the hen house.
When potentially contentious contractual situations between two parties present themselves, often an impartial third part would be tapped to be an objective arbiter.
It’s why Major League Baseball does drug testing, they use an outside testing firm agreed to by the player’s union and MLB. It’s why during the acquisition or merger of two companies that an independent auditing firm is brought in to provide an unbiased opinion.
But Chicago’s meter lease deal does not provide for this and specifically makes the meter company (fox) responsible for documenting handicap parking (hen house) occurring in the city.
An expensive recipe for disaster.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he won’t pay any of these invoices, but binding arbitration outlined in the contract may force him to sign a few multi-million dollar checks.
And while legislation in Springfield to eliminate free meter parking for the vast majority of drivers with handicap plates and disability placards has passed the Illinois State House and is expected to pass the Illinois Senate, it would probably not go into effect until 2013.
This means the City of Chicago would see at least one more multi-million dollar bill for disabled parkers for 2012.
Here’s the Trib’s full story, “City Hall fights parking tickets: Tab now up to $50 million.”