Saratoga Springs parking violators to get amnesty

Parking scofflaws will have two weeks later this month to pay off their outstanding fines without la

Parking scofflaws will have two weeks later this month to pay off their outstanding fines without late fees.

Overdue penalties will be waived from March 22 through April 3 in a special program.

People may pay their tickets from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays in the Department of Public Safety office in City Hall.

Cash, checks and money orders are accepted forms of payment. Mailed payments must be postmarked before April 3.

Anyone with questions may call the Department of Public Safety at 587-3550, ext. 2513 or ext. 2632.

The city public safety commissioner hopes to realize at least $300,000 in revenue from overdue tickets.

“That would be good, but we’ll see,” said Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth.

Wirth won’t announce the names of top scofflaws or the amounts they owe, as his predecessor, Ron Kim, did in 2008, but he may do so in the future, he said.

At the end of last year, the city had 25,760 outstanding tickets with a face value of $726,740; with penalties, the amount rises to $1.26 million, Wirth said.

That includes tickets written over an 11-year period.

Wirth’s announcement comes just a few days after an appointed committee and then the City Council struck down paid parking management bids and officials resigned themselves to finding other ways besides paid parking to fill a $1.35 million budget gap.

Wirth said he was planning to do the amnesty anyway to capture revenue.

“I would have done it no matter what, because it’s the right thing to do for the city,” Wirth said.

Last year, the city got a 73 percent return rate on parking tickets written.

Parking enforcement officers and police had written 12,681 tickets for $533,825, and the city collected $391,307 of that.

In the future, Wirth wants to ramp up enforcement by towing more cars when owners owe big fines.

Currently, parking enforcement officers can tow a car if the owner owes more than $500 on tickets, and Wirth wants to lower that number in the future so cars can be towed if owners owe less than that.

Owners of towed cars pay a maximum $125 towing charge plus a daily storage fee of $25 to the towing company. The city gets a $20 surcharge from each tow.

The city last granted late fee amnesty in 2006, shortly after then-Commissioner Ron Kim took office.

The 2006 effort brought in $13,300 of the $331,000 in fines that had gone uncollected since 2000, about a 4 percent return rate. Nearly 670 overdue parking tickets were paid during a two-week period.

If the city sees a similar return rate this time, it will get about $29,000 in old fines. Wirth hopes to do a lot better than that, though.

The city hired Complus Data Innovations of Tarrytown in 2006 to pursue ticket scofflaws, which brought in more ticket revenue.

Wirth said Complus sends weekly letters to violators and the company has been much more effective than the city was at finding out-of-state motorists who hadn’t paid their fines.

Complus takes 11 percent of the fines it collects from state residents and 20 percent of the amount collected from out-of-state residents.

City employees handle collection until the tickets remain unpaid for 30 days.

Under Kim’s administration, the public safety office also developed an online payment system to take credit cards in an attempt to make it easier for people to pay.

In 2008, seeking to get more unpaid parking ticket revenue, Kim waged a shame campaign to get scofflaws to pay, releasing the names of the 10 people who had racked up the biggest fines with multiple parking tickets, and the amounts they owed.

That effort resulted in some people paying their bills.

Categories: -News-

Leave a Reply