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Local News

Will County to consider courthouse parking fee increase

The Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet.
The Will County Courthouse in downtown Joliet.

JOLIET – Those who park in the lot adjacent to the Will County Courthouse would pay $8 instead of $5 under a proposal being floated by the County Board aimed to help pay for a new courthouse facility.

“I’ve said it over and over again. We have to do our due diligence. We have to look at every revenue source possible for not just one but for many of our capital projects,” said board member Ragan Freitag, R-Wilmington. “We’re looking in every nook and cranny.”

The proposed fee increase is slated for discussion Thursday at the County Board’s Executive Committee meeting.

Will County receives about $400,000 annually from parking lot fees, Freitag said.

An increase from $5 to $8 would generate close to $250,000 more a year.

The fee last was changed in 2003.

Freitag said county officials are looking at additional revenue sources for the courthouse after Joliet officials made it clear recently they can’t contribute funds to the project.

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Friday both sides recently met informally, after the county asked if the city would pay $50 million over 25 years as an incentive for the county to stay downtown. The city counteroffered with a $10 million incentive package.

“I thought it was a pretty substantial offer,” O’Dekirk said, adding he didn’t want to comment on specifics.

O’Dekirk said Joliet would have to raise taxes if the city were to provide the $50 million.

“We have Evergreen Terrace to worry about. We know casino revenues are going down. We have a governor who is threatening to hold back funds, and we had to pull [$8.7 million] from cash reserves to balance this year’s budget,” he said. “I think the City Council unanimously would feel it’s wrong to raise taxes for city residents to pay for a Will County building.”

O’Dekirk said he hopes the city and county can reach a compromise.

Freitag said she is considering a fee increase for the lot adjacent to the courthouse because there are less expensive options – including the nearby city parking garages, where people can park for 50 cents an hour.

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