At a time his administration is locked in a dispute over a $14.2 million bill with the company that controls Chicago's parking meters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is ordering an outside audit to make sure the firm is living up to its contractual obligations.
The mayor has called for a look at the Chicago Parking Meters LLC agreement to make sure the company's revenue collections match the number of parking meters used around the city. Emanuel also wants to make certain the private consortium is meeting operating standards for things like participation by women- and minority-owned subcontractors.
But Emanuel spokeswoman Kathleen Strand would not say what — if anything — the mayor will do if the audit finds evidence the company violated the terms of its contract.
The second-year mayor inherited the 75-year, $1.15 billion lease the City Council agreed to under Mayor Richard Daley in 2008. Experts have said there's not much he can do to break the lease, especially given that the city already spent much of the proceeds.
Still, the parking meter deal remains roundly reviled, and Emanuel has pledged to make sure the city isn't paying more than it should. His administration stopped payment this summer on $14.2 million the company says it's owed for out-of-service parking spots, a total that has since topped $50 million. City officials want more time to analyze data before paying, and the company has threatened to go to mediation amid terse exchanges of correspondence.
The parking meter audit will be followed by audits of the city's leases of the Chicago Skyway and lakefront parking garages, according to an administration news release. All three leases will be audited periodically going forward, the release stated.