Paid parking at courthouses could start in 2014

2013-10-26T00:00:00Z Paid parking at courthouses could start in 2014Gregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

CHICAGO | Nearly two years after Cook County government approved a measure requiring people to pay to park cars near a county courthouse, the action may be implemented.

The County Board approved an amendment Wednesday to the resolution from 2012 that implemented a parking fee as a deficit-reducing measure for county government.

The resolution would apply to all the suburban county courthouses, including the Sixth District facility in Markham, where wiring and infrastructure to support gates restricting access to the parking lots has been installed, but is not being used.

Whether sheriff’s police employees who work at the courthouses have to pay is a subject that will be negotiated in their next contract. The measure exempts employees of the county public guardian’s office from paying a parking fee.

County Capital Planning and Policy bureau representative John Cooke said officials now are trying to find a private company to maintain the equipment and booths that would collect parking fees.

They hope to have a firm for County Board approval by December or January, with Cooke saying it likely would take an additional 10 weeks from the time a contract is awarded until a company could be in place to actually start collecting parking fees.

That would place the beginning of parking fees at the Markham courthouse, and other suburban county courthouses, to mid- to late-March of next year, Cooke said.

County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, D-McCook, was concerned about how officials would let people know when they were expected to pay to park near the courthouse.

But Cooke said the company hired to collect parking fees would handle an information campaign to let people know parking is no longer free.

County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, sponsored the resolution amendments.

In other business, the County Board gave its approval to a resolution that restores money cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Congress has talked of cutting up to $39 billion nationally for SNAP from the Farm Bill.

Kate Maher, of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, said the program helps about one-sixth of Cook County residents supplement their own food supplies.

“We regret to say that our business is booming,” she said.

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