A plan to overhaul the city’s parking-ticket system will lead to better collections without adding staff, said Clerk of Courts Sarah Brown-Clark.
“One of the major obstacles” in collecting parking fines is “people have not taken us seriously,” Brown-Clark told city council’s safety committee Tuesday.
That’s because the clerk’s office is limited in its authority to go after those who don’t pay parking- ticket fines, she said.
With the creation of a parking-violations bureau, tickets would be handled in a way that could be enforced through the municipal-court system, Brown-Clark and city Law Director Anthony Farris said.
“We can file civil procedures and garnish people’s wages,” Brown-Clark said.
City council will consider creating the bureau as well as making adjustments to the cost of tickets at its meeting Wednesday.
“We have a huge number of outstanding parking fines,” Brown-Clark said. “Some are 10 years old, and we have not had enforcement.”
She estimated there are about $100,000 in unpaid tickets, including one motorist who owes $6,800. There are several others with $4,000 in unpaid tickets.
Currently, parking tickets are $10 each as long as they’re paid within 10 days of being ticketed. It goes to $20 after 20 days and then to $30 after 30 days.
Brown-Clark and Farris recommended parking tickets start at $20 with people having 30 days to pay and then going to $30 after that.
But at the suggestion of Councilwoman Annie Gillam, D-1st, a member of the safety committee, the initial fee in the proposal will be reduced to $10. Farris said the original discussion he had with Brown-Clark was $50 for a ticket.
Also, Brown-Clark said her office would provide amnesty for six days, May 6 to 11, in which those owing parking-ticket fees could pay the original $10 cost for tickets without the additional late penalties as long as they pay all of their fines.
After the amnesty week ends, the new city policy also would allow the city to impound or lock vehicles with more than $500 in unpaid parking tickets.