Monday, September 17, 2012

Parking Fines Increase

As the Southern reports, parking fines will increase from $3 to $7 if paid within 2 days, $10 if paid within 3-12 days and $12 after that.  The fines have stayed the same since 1999 while costs to maintain the parking lots have increased.  All of the funds for maintaining the lots come from metered charges and parking fines. All upkeep expenses comes from the parking fund, none from the general fund.  It is easy enough to avoid a parking fine, don't overstay your time.  It is harder to avoid the meters themselves.

I have heard people argue that we should get rid of the parking meters, as this would help downtown businesses by allowing customers to shop longer without worrying about a fine.  Good enough, but then, where does the money come from to maintain the parking lots?  The city's general fund is stressed enough as it is, funneling money from it to the parking fund means other expenses and projects would have to get cut or reduced. 

It would be possible to eliminate the meters and maintain the parking lots, but only if the sales taxes generated from the area increase by an amount sufficient to cover the amount diverted from the general to the parking fund. So far, I know of no research indicating that would happen.

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