Need a Job? Narc on Parking Meter Sketches!

Need extra cash for the holidays? Turns out you can make $8.50 an hour selling out fellow Chicagoans who’ve overstayed their welcome at the city’s parking meters. SERCO, the company that supplements Chicago’s parking ticket enforcement by supplying the city with a non-union force of parking ticket writers is hiring.

From the Parking Ticket Geek:

SERCO, a private firm with a multi-million dollar city contract, has
been supplementing the Chicago’s already substantial parking
enforcement force with non-union parking enforcement personnel for
several years.

Often SERCO people work later evening hours the Department of Revenue doesn’t typically staff.

SERCO also has enforcement contracts with the City Clerk’s office to
write city sticker violations and more recently became the official
enforcement arm of Chicago Parking Meters, LLC.

If you like to walk a lot, have a high school education and enjoy
working a job with “Little creativity and latitude is expected,” then
this may be the perfect fit for you.

Of course, there’s a catch that probably disqualifies the majority of Chicago residents: you’re not allowed to have any unpaid Chicago parking tickets. There’s no word on whether more serious offenses have any effect on your worthiness. And it goes without saying that you have to be weather-resilient and willing to enforce the parking code unmercifully. Last year, the city waited half a week to plow the side streets around my apartment building after the Chicago Blizzard of Ought Ten but had issued parking tickets to snowed-in cars immediately. Word has it that they’re also fond of issuing parking tickets in the half hour before the meters go free on holiday evenings, though I’ve never seen this.

The best part of this, as one commentor points out, is that SERCO is only paying $8.50 an hour to it’s army of city revenue generators but charges the city $17 per ticket writer. It makes sense since the parking meters are technically private, so the private company should be responsible for collecting it’s own revenue, although there’s an argument to be made as to whether private workers should be able to enforce city ordinances. But with a scheme where both the company and the city profit, it’s interesting to note how both parties are trying to come out with the best deal. SERCO earns cash on the city; the city earns $50 cash off of every ticket SERCO issues. The city spends less of its budget on people and gets a disposable, easier-to-manage workforce in return: SERCO employees aren’t unionized, so they don’t necessarily require overtime like city workers and can be fired for any reason, which is both a good and bad thing depending on your perspective on city workers’ unions.

The whole scheme probably ends up screwing Chicago city workers and Chicago residents, which makes this, perhaps, one of the most successful programs ever enacted. 


Leave a comment
  • "It makes sense since the parking meters are technically private, so the private company should be responsible for collecting it's own revenue, although there's an argument to be made as to whether private workers should be able to enforce city ordinances."

    Something like that was brought up two years ago in the suit challenging the constitutionality of the "concession" and I haven't heard anything since about it. However, IIRC, the argument was the converse--that the private entity was using the city enforcement mechanism to collect its unpaid private revenue, through the administrative hearing officer or traffic court. I had said at the time that Jewel can't call in the city to collect money lost from customers bypassing scanning something in the self-serve lane, which is equivalent to what the city was allowing here with the parking meters.

    You might have stumbled onto the loophole--they can use the city mechanism because while the parking meter revenue* goes to the private operator, the fines go to the city. However, the city seems to be paying a huge markup for using the private collection service.

    Notwithstanding that, from what I hear about firms that hire minimum wage labor is that they don't pay at all, unless the workers sic the Dept. of Labor on them. With a 100% markup, these guys shouldn't do that, but much more profitable businesses reportedly do.

    Finally, this is just another thing that keeps surburbanites from shopping in the city. Add to that the red light cameras on every other city corner, sales tax differential, and stuff described on the CTA Tattler, and there is no reason to go downtown. I hope that those of you who live in the city can afford to support it.

    *However, you indicated earlier that the city was also hiring them to collect debts owed directly to the city.

Leave a comment