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City Proposes Changes To Parking Fines

Sarasota's Parking Division would like to reward those who pay their fines within 24 hours with a $5 discount off their fee.

Sarasota's quest to find other ways to raise parking revenue without parking meters could come next in the form of a revised fine structure.

The proposals range from super friendly where someone who pays a fine within 24 hours can pay $5 less to a crackdown of folks tampering or removing wheel boots at a rate of $250.

The City Commission Monday night approved 5-0 to direct staff to prepare ordinances for public review for the new fines. The city's parking ordinance also has to be updated in order to use the state's stop tag progam to prevent people from renewing licenses and tags if there are a certain amount of unpaid tickets.

Starting Oct. 1, the Parking Division would seek start a 90 day past-due collection policy where a collection agency would call to collect the fines.

Here's what city Parking Manager Mark Lyons would like the city to do:

• Change to a tier structure of late fees, where $15 is charged on the 15th day then every 30 days, a $15 fine would be assessed up to a maximum of $45

• Increase the fee to install and remove a wheel boot from $50 to $75 due to the time and effort it takes staff to process and install/remove boots

• Failure to display a parking permit fine waiver increases from $7.50 to $15

• Create a $35 fine for non electric cars parked in electric car charging stations

Lyons said the state grants municipalities the power to charge up to $250 for the electric vehicle fine but found that it's excessive.

Also, in order to be eligible to have a boot installed on your car, Lyons proposes that a structure be in place where if a car has:

• Up to $100 in unpaid parking fines including late fees 

• Two unpaid parking tickets in 45 days without filing for an appeal

• Three unpaid parking tickets in 30 days without filing for an appeal

Lyons philosophy is to collect more of the unpaid parking money hoping that people would feel more deterred by the fines and pay on time, thus offering a $5 discount to those who pay within 24 hours. The city has $701,799 owed to them in unpaid parking fines from 2002 to 2011, according to Lyons.

Commissioner Shannon Snyder wants to know what about those who get a ticket on Saturdays.

"So if you get one of Saturday, you're S-O-L?" Snyder asked.

Lyons laughed and said no, and staff will work to resolve how to handle those situations. Right now, parking fines can only be paid and processed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mayor Suzanne Atwell likes the proposed structure.

"It's a behavior management program," she said. "It states that we as a city will be consistent with all of you, we'll be fair with all of you, but we'll be fiscally responsible."

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