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City Likely To Get Big NATO Bill From Parking Meter Company

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's unclear who will pay it but, after the NATO summit ends, there likely will be a hefty bill from the private company that operates Chicago's parking meters, for lost revenue from street closures and parking bans.

WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports, through the end of the summit, parking will have been banned on many Chicago streets as part of the security measures put into place by the city and the Secret Service.

It's unclear exactly how many metered spots have been taken out, but "Parking Ticket Geek" Mike Brockway, who runs The Expired Meter website, said the city's contract with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC, is clear.

"If meters are closed for more than three hours, or more than six hours over a period of three days, then it's considered a closure," Brockway said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports


In that event, the company must be compensated for lost revenue. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has disputed previous bills from the company for revenue lost from street festivals, parades, and other events, as well as from people who park for free with disabled parking placards.

But Brockway said, "I don't think he has a leg to stand on. The contract is very clear."

"Very high-priced lawyers on both sides looked over it, and what's funny is the city actually documents a lot of these closures to begin with. I mean, the CDOT website has a running documentation of all street closures," Brockway added.

That means there's quite a paper trail when streets with metered parking are closed.

The mayor might be able to shift the cost to the NATO host committee, or the Secret Service if it mandated the street closures.

Either way, Brockway said someone will have to foot the bill.

No one's figured out yet how much that might amount to for the NATO summit, but, Brockway suspects it will easily reach six figures.

Avis Lavelle, a spokeswoman for the parking meter company, told WBBM Newsradio it has no comment on the matter.

Earlier this month, Emanuel said he had rejected a $14 million invoice from the parking meter firm for revenue lost over the first nine months of 2011, due to road repairs, street festivals, and other events.

"Just because you send a bill, I'm not going to ask taxpayers to pay it," Emanuel said at the time. "It's a new day here."

Emanuel has said all along the meter deal was a bad deal, and he is examining it.

The company has also sent the city a $13.5 million bill for lost revenue from drivers who use disabled parking placards to get free parking. That bill is in arbitration.

The company billed the city nearly $1.7 million for lost revenue in 2010, and more than $533,000 for lost revenue in 2009.

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