Mayor Announces Audit Of Chicago Parking Meters, LLC
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired another shot in his battle with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC Monday morning.
Emanuel announced an independent audit of CPM to see if the concessionaire of the 75 year lease of the city’s metered parking system is acting in accordance with the agreement.
“To ensure we are responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars being paid to CPM, it is imperative this administration vigilantly exercise due diligence while effectively managing each contract,” said Emanuel. “These comprehensive, regular audits will help ensure accountability and keep those behind the agreements honest and responsible.”
The Mayor’s office says CPM is just the first audit of several large dollar, long term privatization deals and will eventually scrutinize the Skyway and lake front parking concessions. But it’s probably not coincidence the parking meter company is to be looked at first.
“I want a good look at their books,” Emanuel said at a press conference this morning according to CBS 2 News. “They are not a good corporate partner for Chicago.”
Emanuel campaigned on the promise of giving the meter lease deal a second look, implying he may be able to undo perhaps the single most hated privatization contract locally and nationally.
While initially, those promises seemed forgotten after Emanuel had won office, his administration’s interest in the subject re-emerged when CPM began invoicing the city for the millions of dollars in revenue impacts it was due under the contract.
Between CPM’s claims for lost parking meter revenue for temporary closures of metered parking due to street repairs, utility work, and street festivals, and the excessive number of drivers using disability placards and handicap license plates to receive free parking at meters, the total bill was in excess of $50 million.
Emanuel challenged the accuracy of the claims and refused to pay the bills until the bills were verified. Since then, the city and CPM has been at a standstill with Chicago making no payments to the company and, according to a city spokesperson, no further bills have been received.
The audit, to be conducted by an independent, outside firm is scheduled to begin in November, and will probably take at least two months according to Mayor’s Office spokesperson Kathleen Strand.
“(We’re) just signing the contract with an auditor now,” says Strand. “This is a much deeper dive into the financial and operational process.”
City officials expect the audit will include interviews with the heads of CPM and Morgan Stanley the primary investor in CPM as well as contractors, which will most likely include LAZ Parking, which handles street operations for the company. The audit will also look at contract management and compliance, including whether CPM is meeting minority and local hiring requirements, as well as what’s being termed “revenue reconciliations” between transactions and collection records and to review if the company is meeting it’s operational responsibilities under the contract.
“This administration will continue to fight any charges sent by CPM that we feel are not accurate or justified,” says Emanuel. “As I have said before, the City does not cut a check simply because we receive a bill.”
Attempts were made to contact spokespeople for CPM via phone and email for comment, but no response was received.