As Denver struggles to close its budget gap, ideas are flying. In his monthly e-mail to constituents, Doug Linkhart, an at-large member of Denver City Council, offers this: "How can a bunch of quarters help fill our $120 million budget gap? By doing what Chicago recently did, and letting someone else manage our parking meter collections.... Earlier this year the city of Chicago sold the management and revenue stream for its parking meters to a private business for $1.2 billion.... Denver's meter revenues are somewhat smaller than Chicago's, at about $9 million per year, roughly 40% of Chicago's. If we could find a similar buyer, for even $300 million, we could also invest part of the money, use some to cover our deficit and perhaps set part of it aside in an innovation fund for employee ideas for saving money in the future."
The concept sounds good. Not only would it bring in some cash, but privatizing meters would also remove a major city headache. Don't count your quarters yet, though. Within a month of the very hasty privatizing of Chicago's system, citizens were howling over overnight parking-fee increases and broken meters that couldn't handle the load -- and the Chicago Reader was publishing an amazing series on how the deal went down, why the city could have collected four times as much for an asset it sold for a century... and who profited from the scheme. Read it here.
A clue: It wasn't the residents of Chicago.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.