What happens when the city leases public assets to private investors?
By Susan Chandler, Chicago Tribune
The price to park your car for an hour in the Millennium Park Garage has risen 31 percent, to $17, since the garage was leased to Morgan Stanley in 2006.
The cost to drive an auto across the Chicago Skyway is now 50 percent higher than it was in 2004, when Australian and Spanish investors paid $1.83 billion for a 99-year lease.
Could an $8 airport pretzel be next? How about a $10 luggage cart?
Those are real questions facing consumers as the city moves ahead on a landmark plan to lease Midway Airport to private operators.
Mayor Richard Daley has been ahead of the curve leasing public infrastructure such as the Skyway and underground parking garages as a way to raise cash. So it wasn't much of a surprise that in 2006 Chicago's Midway became the first large hub airport to apply under a Federal Aviation Administration pilot program to test privatization at five airports around the country.
The privatization of public assets has sparked a debate among academics and urban officials across the country about whether the leasing of bridges, roads and other infrastructure is a smart way to manage public resources over the long haul or just a desperate quick fix.
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