Parking Ticket Dreams

Can parking ticket revenue puff up area budgets?

By Asha Beh
|  Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010  |  Updated 7:13 PM EDT
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Just Saying "No!"  DC Parking Tickets Go Unpaid

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Traffic warden writing parking ticket. (Leeds, Yorkshire, UK).

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Just Saying "No!" DC Parking Tickets Go Unpaid

More parking tickets should equal more revenue. But, in DC, many people just aren't paying.
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Expired meters, wrong zone, too long in a zone -- if there's a reason to give you a ticket, it's likely the District's got it.

And now it's going to be even harder to escape the ticketing ghouls -- er, enforcement officers. In an effort to up its parking ticket revenue, D.C.'s training 25 new officers for summer, the most wonderful time of the year for the city's coffers.

"Summer is our peak season for issuing tickets," Bill Howland, director for the Department of Public Works, told the Washington Examiner. "We're hoping to have some of these folks ready so they can issue more tickets."

There is one snafu in the plan, though. D.C.'s revenue from parking tickets isn't keeping pace with its ticket distribution -- even though it collects 25 times more money in parking fines than Fairfax County and more than eight times more than Montgomery County. In fiscal year 2008 alone, the District collected over $67 million in fines, according to WTOP.

Now the District is "on pace to run about $20 million short of last fiscal year as more people contest their tickets in person or refuse to pay up," reports the Examiner. 

(Like, perhaps, D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr., who is fighting over $650 in parking tickets?)

Montgomery County, meanwhile, doesn't seem to have problems in that department.

Montgomery has collected some $8.1 million in ticket revenue so far this fiscal year, said county spokeswoman Esther Bowring, $200,000 more than it expected for all of fiscal 2010.

With overhead like that, is it any wonder County Executive Ike Leggett plans to reduce the county's near $800 million budget gap in part with revenues from parking tickets? If approved by the county council, parking tickets could go up by $5.

And that's not all. Authorities in Montgomery also are hoping to raise money from long-term parking, the Examiner reports. Long-term parking meters will increase by 10 cents per hour in Bethesda and 5 cents per hour in Silver Spring.

Whether these plans work remains to be seen. Fairfax County upped its parking fines from $40 to $50, but it was forced to cut its parking fine revenue estimate for the year when the money didn't start coming in as expected.  

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