Chicago dings drivers $5 per hour at parking meters

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Laying claim to the most expensive street parking in the nation, the city of Chicago is set to raise parking rates on downtown streets to $5 per hour, up from $4.25, an increase of 18 percent.

Rates are somewhat lower and at a bargain rate of just $3 per hour in areas adjacent to downtown.

The rate increase is the third in a series of five increases, agreed to by city leaders as part of a master lease agreement with Chicago Parking Meters LLC, a private firm that took over operation of the meters three years ago.

The 75-year lease deal, worth $1.16 billion in upfront cash to help address the city’s financial problems, was widely criticized by residents. Most of the proceeds from the deal have already been spent.

The downtown rates will hit $6.50 in 2013 and increase annually- for the next 70 years, by the rate of inflation.

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