Parking scofflaws likely to feel pinch

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By JASON ECK

If the city Finance Committee has its way, fines for some parking violations will more than double as early as Wednesday.

The city has not raised parking fines since 1996, and at a committee meeting yesterday, City Finance Director Pat Perry said now is a good time to discuss increasing fees. The city just learned the state has imposed an additional surcharge on all city traffic tickets.

Perry also took the opportunity to pitch not only covering the surcharge and the cost of parking enforcement through the fines, but also turning a little profit for the city.

As of Jan. 1, the state demanded $1.50 more from each parking fine regardless of whether the city increased penalties a fact incorrectly reported in a story on Tuesday's front page.

That demand prompted the city to look at its parking fines.

After the meeting, Perry said yesterday's proposed fees would generate more than enough money to cover the parking enforcement program, which last year did not pay for itself.

Parking tickets in the 2001-02 fiscal year brought $19,554 to the city's general fund

The money goes toward paying two part-time enforcement officers and overhead costs. Last year, that came to about $27,600, leaving the city more than $8,000 short.

The committee recommendations will go before the City Council on Tuesday, and if council members approve them, the new fines will take effect the following day.

If the new fines are approved, out of a $20 overtime parking ticket, the city would keep $13.50 after the state takes its share.

Right now, the state takes $5 from each ticket, which will go up to $6.50 to help cover the cost of state court construction.

Yesterday, Police Chief Duane Ellis, Lt. Pat Tonegato, traffic enforcement officer Randy Esson and Finance Committee members Liz Bass, Hank Russell and Pat Perry went through a list of 16 traffic violations and decided whether to raise fines on each.

Perry and City Administrator Greg Applegate had come up with increase proposals, and although Applegate was not at the meeting, Perry presented their ideas to the committee. They proposed more-than-double increases on some.

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The Union Democrat
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