Monthly Archives: October 2019

Costly Commuting in Chicago

Commuting is costly everywhere in America but when it comes to fines and fees, it seems like Chicago is getting the brunt of it.  Chicago has been infamous for its red-light cameras with one individual – who had even held the role of an executive transportation official – serving jail time for bribetaking with a red light camera firm. 

But it’s done been positive for the administration and infrastructure sector of Chicago.  Over the last ten years it’s gotten even heavier. As one report pointed out:

“Red-light cameras in the Chicago suburbs have been a gold mine for local governments and a headache for drivers. Red-light camera revenue outside Chicago city limits drove almost all of that increase, with $56.6 million generated in 2018 compared with $5.4 million in 2008.”

Now, lawmakers are looking to ban red light cameras.  But this would lead to “budget holes” in Chicago as well as other cities.Chicago and many suburbs with significant budget holes. Given that Chicago has traditionally been Illinois’ “biggest beneficiary” of red light cameras, there would be huge implications.  In 2018 the city brought in $56 million just in fines.

There is a lot of infrastructure work that needs to be undertaken and the monies are often used for that.  Chicago and its five collar counties have 2,720 miles of roads and almost 1,500 bridges.  According to executive vice president of the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association  and member of the Transportation for Illinois Coalition Kevin Burke, most of the money is being used for transit in the Chicago metro area and in general there’s a lot of work that needs doing. At the end of the day roads need maintenance.

State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville pointed out that “it’s good to see that there is some attention, finally, to some long overdue projects that are in need of desperate repair.”

Marathon Makes Money

The Chicago Marathon is a great money maker.   Last year, revenue was outstanding with a contribution of $378 million to Chicago’s economy.  In 2017 the figure was also high but $40 million less.

This year there were 45,857 participants in what was the 41st Bank of America Chicago Marathon.  Nearly 30 percent were visiting from overseas which is also great for tourism and the economy.  Further, it adds to Chicago’s prestige as a tourist destination.  Indeed, according to Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot:

 “The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is not only one of the largest and most prestigious marathons in world, but it is also an economic engine for our city – including a record-setting $378 million last year – that takes runners through 29 dynamic neighborhoods that together showcase our city’s diversity, history, and beauty. As mayor and as a fan, I look forward to joining Chicagoans and cheering on runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries for the 42nd annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon.”

Jobs are also created from the marathon. For example, in 2018, 2,592 jobs were created, equaling $127 million in salaries.

City Car Stickers

Some Chicagoans have accumulated fees and tickets due to not updating their city car stickers.  Thanks to a recent announcement from the Mayor, this pressure will be relieved as they will be given the opportunity to purchase a new sticker without incurring any additional fee/back charges for this month only

This could be due to the endeavors of Anna Valencia, City Clerk who worked hard to eliminate the citizen city sticker debt for Chicagoans.  She argued that:

“The city sticker debt is crazy. Only one out of three city sticker tickets are being paid a year. If we keep this debt on the back of our communities, they can’t get jobs. They can’t get child care. They can’t drive to work.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot added:

“Then, beginning Nov. 15, everyone who is in compliance with their city sticker by Oct. 31 will be eligible to have some or all of their city sticker tickets forgiven.It’s a new day in Chicago, and we’re going to make sure that every single person gets a fair shot at economic opportunity.”

Fines for not having a city sticker have jumped tremendously. For example in 2012 the increase was $80 (from $120-$200). This resulted in the huge escalation of ticket debt, fees, late penalties to approximately $275 million in the last 9 years.