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Sneed exclusive: Could a congestion tax be in the works?

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Sneed hears an addition to a massive city property tax increase is being considered, which could generate $195 million a year!

Sneed has learned Mayor Rahm Emanuel is eyeing a city commuter/congestion tax that could add mega millions to the city’s barren coffers at City Council Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Ed Burke’s (14th) suggestion.

• Upshot: Burke recently persuaded Emanuel to impanel a blue ribbon committee to study the feasibility and logistics of collecting a congestion fee from suburbanites who drive into the city, with a goal of easing Chicago’s notorious traffic problems.

• Big bucks shot: The panel, which is being created as we speak, will look at how such a fee would be collected, where it could be collected, and the costs of operating such a program. At $10 a day, a congestion abatement plan would generate $3.75 million per week or $195 million per year, sources tell Sneed.

• Road block: A number of factors make a congestion fee highly complex, including the fact that it could only be imposed on city streets. The city would not have the legal authority to collect a fee from people driving on state or federal highways.

• Road stats: In order to achieve the goals for reducing emissions and generating revenue the Central Business District — as defined by the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Department of Revenue — would be the focus of any abatement.

OPINION

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Abatement would take place between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the evening rush-hour period.

An estimated 194,000 vehicles travel to the central business district from elsewhere in the city and the suburbs, according to a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning study conducted before Feb. 2010.

• Road choke: In March, the navigation company TomTom released a report showing Chicago is eighth worst in the country for traffic congestion.

“It would be a hard-fought battle, but in European capitals like London, it is extremely successful,” said Burke.

“New York Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg waged a losing battle to try and impose a similar congestion fee in Manhattan, only to be thwarted by the legislature,” he added.

“But I’m hoping it could be done. Anybody not a resident of the city and doesn’t have a car registered in the city will pay for the privilege of driving in a congested downtown area, specifically the Loop . . . or take public transportation.

“We’re talking businessmen, bankers, delivery truck services, vehicles, plumbers, electricians, you name it,” added Burke, who said it would involve automated electronic metering but no stopping on expressway tolls.

“It’s a very attractive idea to get taxes to fund the government’s expenses, but it could have unintended consequences,” said a Sneed source.

Stay tuned.

Keeping it cheap . . .

$$$$ Donald Trump, the uber rich real estate mogul who is bankrolling his own campaign has only spent $1.9 million on his 2016 bid. Total.

• Buck shot: Trump has said he would be willing to spend up to $1 billion on the run, but thinks he can get it for the much more reasonable price of $100 million.

• Big bucks shot: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has spent more than $18.7 million of the $47.5 million she’s raised for her campaign.

I spy . . .

Puck luck! Everyone was excited to see Blackhawks star Brent Seabrook and team President John McDonough when they stopped by Leo High School on Tuesday with the Stanley Cup – but the Hawks wanted to meet one special guest.

Who? Jack Schaller, 91, Leo’s oldest living alumnus and owner of Schaller’s Pump in Bridgeport, got a special greeting from the Hawks representatives.

Is that why Leo President Dan McGrath was smiling?

Sneedlings . . .

A calendar date: The Buoniconti Fund and the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation have teamed up to honor Chicago Police Officer Jim Mullen and raise funds for the “Get Behind the Vest” campaign and spinal cord injury research at a golf outing Oct. 5 at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont. Be there. (www.cpdmemorial.org). . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Jimmy Fallon, 41; Sanaa Lathan, 44, and Twiggy, 66 … Sunday’s birthdays: Sophia Loren, 81, George R. R. Martin, 67, and Gary Cole, 59.

Follow Sneed on Twitter: @Sneedlings

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