Under the leadership of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the City of Chicago has led the nation as the first local government to pursue and successfully close innovative leases of a toll road, an underground parking system, and a metered parking system. In total, those transactions have provided nearly $3.6 billion for Chicago residents and taxpayers.
The Mayor has prudently and responsibly used the proceeds of the leases to protect taxpayers over both the short and long-term, and to improve quality of life for Chicago residents.
The Chicago Skyway, downtown parking garages and the citywide metered parking system assets were successfully converted to nearly $3.6 billion in cash which the City used to: establish a perpetual long-term reserve fund of $900 million to replace revenue generated by the Skyway and parking meters; retire $925 million in debt; reserve more than $700 million for mid-term budget relief; and invest more than $322 million in neighborhoods, parks and programs that serve people most in need.
Each of the three successful transactions eliminated long-term risks of increased operating and capital expenditures, while mitigating the risk of future changes in driver behaviors.
After the $1.83 billion Chicago Skyway transaction closed, and the long-term reserve was established, all three rating agencies upgraded the City's credit. Today, the City of Chicago enjoys its highest credit ratings since 1978.
The $563 million lease of the downtown parking garage system helped to pay off all of the debt used to build Chicago's world-class Millennium Park, and allowed for a massive shift of capital resources from downtown parking garages to neighborhood parks throughout the city by investing $122 million in neighborhood park infrastructure.
In leasing the Chicago metered parking system for $1.15 billion, the City followed these same guidelines to produce an agreement which earned the highest possible financial return for Chicagoans while delivering improved service and infrastructure over the long term.
The City has chosen to pursue long-term leases of infrastructure assets only in cases when there is substantial potential financial benefit to the Chicago taxpayers and residents. The City also only considers privatizing areas that are not the core competencies of City government and where there exists experienced and professional operators who can improve efficiency, quality of service and make enhanced capital investments.
In each public-private partnership, the City demands from its private operators the fair treatment of employees, a high level of safety and security, and strong performance, operating and engineering standards. Throughout each transaction, the City has provided great transparency in the competitive bidding process and through the planning of the use of lease proceeds.