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City Council Should Wait On Giving Parking Incentives

Councilwoman Kim Ecklund, R-At Large, is right when she says it’s too soon for Jamestown to have another parking ticket amnesty program.

The city has had amnesty programs twice in the past 10 years — once in 2009 and again in 2016 — which allowed vehicle owners with outstanding tickets to pay the face value of those tickets, waiving any penalties or fees that may have accrued.

Amnesty can provide a short-term revenue boost. City officials raised between $25,000 and $30,000 in a one-month program in 2016 while the 2009 amnesty program raised $35,000. That’s not exactly chump change for a city that needs to look for additional revenues, but we agree with Ecklund that the city shouldn’t be incentivizing people to wait for amnesty programs before taking care of their parking ticket obligations.

Many people who get parking tickets pay them quickly before the fines and fees escalate. That’s the way parking tickets should be handled. The city has a problem, though, with people who flagrantly flout its parking guidelines repeatedly and then refuse to pay their fines. Extreme cases result in drivers with more than $1,000 in parking ticket fines while others can owe hundreds of dollars.

The city should absolutely do more to collect the parking ticket money that is out there. Elliot Raimondo, city corporation counsel, said city employees are nearly ready to solicit proposals from private companies to try to recoup some of the parking ticket money while city workers are also placing a boot on vehicles whose drivers owe more than $100 in parking ticket fines.

Both options should be given time to work before another round of parking ticket amnesty is considered.