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This Week in Chicago Fees and Fines

Speeding cameras, cell-phone tickets, decriminalization, and water fees: the latest front in the city’s scramble for revenue.

speeding ticket

 

* Leonor Vivanco and Lolly Bowean of the Trib detail just how much the city is making by ticketing cell-phone-using drivers. I was a bit surprised to see how much it is… but then this morning at the bus stop I counted at least four or five people on cell phones during my brief wait, at a not-terribly-well-trafficked intersection on West Grand (and, yes, I sometimes take cell phone calls in the car too). To paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, it’s less like shooting fish in a barrel than sticking a 12-gauge into a goldfish bowl. Which brings me to a point I keep making:

Chicago fines revenue

Not the increase in fines from 2001-2011. It’s a perfect revenue stream, if you’re a politician: it’s not a tax, and it’s essentially a fee levied on a voluntary decision. In short: I highly recommend keeping an earpiece in the car. They’re pretty cheap nowadays, and considerably cheaper than a ticket.

* Rick Pearson takes a look at speeding-camera legislation and comes to conclusions about how much of the city would be covered (a lot) and how much speeding has to do with auto fatalities in the city (not as much as you’d think).

* Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke investigate the increase in water fees and conclude that much of the new revenue won’t go towards rebuilding the city’s aging infrastructure… just as it didn’t during the Daley administration. It does represent a considerable increase in infrastructure work, but in part because of how little has been spent on it recently. Well worth reading and sharing with your friends and aldermen.

* An ordinance that would decriminalize marijuana is headed to City Council… in Evanston.

* Toni Preckwinkle is pushing an increase in the county’s sin taxes.

 

Photograph: Brood_wich (CC by 2.0)

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