Congratulations, Chicago: Your City Now Has The Most Expensive Parking Meters In The U.S.

In a move that will earn it the dubious honor of being home to North America’s most expensive parking meters, Chicago’s downtown meters will start charging parkers $6.50 an hour starting on New Year’s Day, up from $5.75. It’s the highest rate for a downtown area and the fifth year the city’s parking meter rates have gone up. Umm, so, congratulations?

By the end of February Chicago Parking Meters LLC  will have all machines set to new rates, says CBS Chicago. Since that company took control of the city’s meters in 2008, rates have kept rising. It secured the lucrative contract under a 75-year lease championed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

The current guy in charge, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is apparently not so pleased with the deal, which involved a $1.1 billion payment going to the city. That money has mostly been spent, and Emanuel has ordered an independent audit of the deal since everyone seems to view it as kind of a financial disaster.

It isn’t just downtown drivers who will feel the sting in their wallets — the Central Business District will see rates rise from $3.50 per hour to $4, while neighborhood meters will jump from $1.75 per hour to $2.

There could be some relief in sight, however, as the price increase is the last of the automatic hikes as stipulated by the 75-year lease deal.

Congratulations, Chicago?

Chicago Parking Meter Rates About To Go Up For 5th Year In A Row [CBS Chicago]