Buffalo Grove raising Metra parking fees as much as 33%

The parking fees at the Buffalo Grove Metra lot are going to increase as much as 33 percent, probably in March.

The village board approved the hike at Monday's meeting. It will apply to both the daily parking fee and the two-month parking pass.

The daily fee moves up 14 percent from $1.75 to $2, while the bimonthly fee would climb 33 percent from $60 to $80. The last daily increase was six or seven years ago and the daily fee is in line with the fees at other Metra lots, village officials said.

Deputy Finance Director Andrew Brown said the purpose of the increase would be mainly to pay for maintenance of the lot. The village is paying a land lease to ComEd with parking fee funds.

"We currently do not have a capital improvement plan for that lot," he said, explaining the money would be set aside for striping and future repavement.

Buffalo Grove resident and Metra rider Elliott Stewart called the increase "dramatic" and said the full burden of maintenance shouldn't fall on Metra riders. "The Metra station also brings an economic benefit to the entire village by virtue of those that stop in Buffalo Grove and spend their tax dollars here," he said,

But Finance Director Scott Anderson said the intent was that the lot be self-sustaining and to do otherwise would raise the issue of why the village is diverting sales taxes or other revenues to benefit "a specific subset of people utilizing that service."

Without the increase, the lot fund would have to be supplemented by the village's general operating fund, he said. "We're looking at, if we held the status quo, that, within a year or two, we would be in a deficit."

Brown said the village is on site to sell passes on the day before each parking cycle and passes are also available by mail. The goal ultimately is to put the collection of parking fees online.

The village is no longer selling passes through the coffee vendor at the station because it creates an "audit issue," he said, as there's not the controls there are at village hall, where passes are locked up and sales are recorded with the finance department's software.

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