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No More Loop Car Congestion After Parking Lots’ Taxes Increase?

People who work, visit or live downtown may leave their cars at home and take the train, after the mayor’s 2012 budget, passed last Wednesday.

There are increased taxes on public parking lots in the new budget.

An additional $2 tax would apply on daily parking and $40 for monthly passes at the  city owned parking lots located downtown every day, excluding the weekends, according to the ordinance.

“It’s a pretty high tax,” said Monica Metzler, spokeswoman for the Parking Industry Labor Management Council (PILMC)

“It could be a severe impact, it is hard to predict,” she said.

Metzler said the presumed intention of the tax is to reduce congestion downtown.

But she said “the reason why they [people] drive downtown is because they don’t have any other option.”

Metzler said she is also concerned that during the rush hours Metra and CTA will not have enough capacity to for the mass of people that they will have to carry.

There are about 65 parking lots in the loop, according to the Parking Industry Labor Management Council, the company that represents operators, owners and workers of Chicago parking garages.

A city tax of $5 will apply on daily rates of $12 or more, plus $1 in county taxes, for a 50 percent increase. Monthly rates over $240 will have to pay $100 taxes to the city and $20 to the county, for a total increase of 50 percent, according to data from the parking management council.

Julien Jones, media realtor for Impark, said the ordinance will impact people’s parking habits.

“The way this tax is applied does affect tourism and hospitals as well,” he said.

Jones said he is also concerned about fewer people traveling downtown for restaurants, shows and theater. He fears people may use facilities in their neighborhoods instead of going downtown.

“The increase is quite substantial, people will change from driving to other means of transportation,” he said.

According to the Parking Industry Labor Management Council there is no guarantee that this tax hike will benefit CTA or Metra and there are no studies that indicate that a parking tax increase will have any influence on traffic congestion.

Parking will become pricier under the new budget.

Sheri Rothenberg, a car owner, said she thinks people will probably use fewer parking lots.

“I still like to take my car,” she said.

She said she will continue to take her car because she does not have any other option to go to work.

But Harold Johns, a public parking employee, said he thinks fewer people will take the car to go downtown, if the ordinance passes

“Even a dollar counts,” he said.

The PILMC recently passed some informational flyers to public parking employees, with all the details about how the city will impose the new tax.

“We are getting the communication out, so that they know exactly what is going to happen,” Metzler said.

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