Privatize parking meters?

July 20, 2009
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City officials are considering several proposals to modernize and even privatize the city's roughly 4,000 parking meters to squeeze out more revenue. They’re considering a range of proposals, most of which include multi-space meters and credit card payments. Among the possibilities is a long-term lease of the meters to a private firm. Chicago netted $1.2 billion last year for a 75-year lease of its 36,000 meters, but the deal has generated a firestorm of criticism and a scathing report from that city’s inspector general. One estimate pegs the value of a long-term lease of Indianapolis’ meters at more than $100 million. The meters already add more than $3 million per year to city coffers, but proposals from private firms responding to a city request for information say that number should be much higher. City officials say any windfall would go toward sewer and road improvements. The full story from IBJ’s print edition is here. If the city gives up control of its on-street parking, would projects like the Cultural Trail even be possible? Would the higher rates drive away visitors? Thoughts?

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