The price of taking a taxi will rise roughly 20 percent after the village board approved a fare increase at its regular meeting Monday night.

Rates rose for the flag pull from $1.80 for the first one-twelfth of a mile to $2.25 for the first two-nineteenths of a mile. Additional mileage charges rose from $1.60 a mile to $1.90 a mile, and the charge for three minutes of waiting time rose from $0.90 to $1.

The rate for a 2-mile ride will rise from $5 to $6.05 with the new rates, a 21-percent increase. A 12-mile ride will cost $25.05, up 19 percent from $21. Those figures are estimates from Blue Cab Co., one of two licensed cabs companies operating in Oak Park.

The last rate increase was approved by the village board Nov. 6, 2000, according to a village memo. A public hearing on the increase was held Monday night directly before the board approved the measure.

The cab companies lobbied for the hike, pointing to rising gasoline costs as coming out of drivers’ pockets. The rate increases would not be passed on to the cab companies themselves, but would only be captured by the drivers, according to Blue Cab.

Gas prices in 2000 were $1.68 a gallon, compared with some $3-plus prices seen this year. “This fare increase would help the taxi drivers of Oak Park make a fair livable wage,” a memo from Red Cab Co. reads.

A Blue Cab memo states that “an average driver is spending between $10-$15 additional per day on gas.”

The companies argued that the fare increase would bring their prices in line with competitors in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The companies asked for, but did not receive, a fuel surcharge fee of $1 or more per ride.

The board voted 6-0 to approve the increase, with Trustee Geoff Baker absent, in New York on business.

$220K for Ike cap lobbyists

The village will continue to retain the services of two law firms, one in Washington, D.C., and one in Springfield, to protect its interests surrounding expansion and the possible capping of the Eisenhower Expressway.

Retention services will cost the village $10,000 a month, down from $13,300 a month last year. An additional $100,000 is reserved for legal and technical assistance “as needed.”

The firms lobby legislators, and “provide technical analysis of transportation engineering issues, designs and alternatives as well as evaluation of environmental impacts and studies … as necessary,” according to a village memo.

The village aims at getting a cap built. “Additionally, efforts to ensure continued appropriations for the Cap the Ike project, and support of state and federal elected officials for the project is needed to make this project a reality,” according to a village statement.

Village keeps high bond ratings

The village government learned last week it has maintained its high bond ratings, a vote of confidence on the village’s financial stability.

Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s reconfirmed their ratings for the village. The S&P AA rating “differs from the highest-rated [bonds] only to a small degree. The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is very strong,” company material reads.

Moody’s Aa3 rating is also near the top, and the company continued its “positive outlook” designation on the village’s rating, Finance Director Greg Peters told the board Monday night.

Financial consultants were on hand to report the results of two Monday morning bond sales needed to finance the new public works facility on South Boulevard. Both issues garnered lower rates than expected. On one issuance, a lower rate (5.09 percent vs. an expected 5.5 percent) will mean the bond will be repaid two years early, a savings to taxpayers over the 25-year life of the bond of $2.9 million.

Better bond ratings correlate to lower rates, much like the ability of someone with good credit to get a lower mortgage rate.

?#34;Drew Carter

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