The cost of parking at Evanston’s three downtown garages will increase if City Council tonight approves a proposal from city staff for responding to a new parking tax imposed by the state.

Under the proposal parking for less than an hour would remain free, but other hourly rates would increase as follows:

  • 1-2 hours would rise from $2 to $3.
  • 2-3 hours would rise from $4 to $5.
  • 3-5 hours would rise from $5 to $6.
  • 5-12 hours, now $10, would be split into two categories, with 5-8 hours remaining at $10 and 8-12 hours increasing to $12.
  • 12-24 hours would rise from $16 to $18.

Monthly permit rates at the garages would increase as follows:

  • The Sherman Plaza garage rate would go from $125 to $130.
  • The rate for the Church Street and Maple Avenue garages would increas from $110 to $115.
  • The rooftop discount rate for downtown employees would increase from $50 to $60.

Under the staff proposal, the new rates would take effect on Feb. 1. With rates for most metered on-street parking spaces already scheduled to rise to $2 an hour next year, rates for many time intervals at the garages would remain cheaper than the on-street equivalent.

The new state tax of 6% on daily and 9% on monthly parking fees only applies if municipalities contract out management of their parking garages to a third party, as  the City of Evanston does.

As a result, a city staff memo recommending the increases for next year suggests that the city consider not renewing its current contract with SP+ for management of the garages beyond the year 2020 and explore self-managing the garages, a step the staff estimates could avoid $300,000 in state tax liabilities and yield up to $400,000 in additional operational cost savings.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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