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Clifton Park plans hearing on traffic law change

Clifton Park plans hearing on traffic law change

Effort would modernize town's entire traffic ticket payment system and lower some fines
Clifton Park plans hearing on traffic law change
Photographer: Shutterstock

Clifton Park will hold a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the town's traffic law that would modernize its entire traffic ticket payment system and lower some fines.

The public hearing will be held on March 11 at 7:10 p.m. in the Town Hall.

In October, the Town Board unanimously approved a contract with web-based service Passport Labs that would allow motorists to pay ticket fines online as opposed to appearing in Town Court or mailing a money order, which is the current system.

Various town officials, including town Security Director Lou Pasquarell, Town Attorney Tom McCarthy, and town judges and court staff reviewed proposals from several software companies associated with parking management and enforcement.

The contract with Passport Labs, which is headquartered in North Carolina, will cost the town $6,200. There will be demonstrations in the future to show how the Passport system works.

Neighboring municipalities have already made the switch to a web-based payment option. In the towns Halfmoon and Glenville, as well as the city of Saratoga Springs, those paying fines can use credit cards to pay online.

"We're looking forward to implementing this as we go forward," Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said when the contract was signed.

The intention of updating the town's vehicle and traffic laws, McCarthy said, was to make the process of paying and processing fines easier for all parties involved. He called the current system outdated.

"Really what we're trying to get is a higher level of compliance, and lower fines," he said on Thursday.

Currently, the fees for first-time parking violations in town could be up to $150, depending on the infraction. Under the new law, that top amount will go down to $100. McCarthy said the issuance of $150 fees was extremely rare, so dropping the top amount down would make sense.

"We never impose those kinds of fees on anybody," he said. Second-time violations within 18 months will go from a $250 potential fee to $200, and a third violation fee will go from $500 at the most to $300. 

Another new part of the law would be the formation of an administrative parking violations agency that will handle contested parking tickets. Most of that work would be done by McCarthy, he said, as well as his deputies in Town Hall.

The new software has not been completed, but town officials receive weekly updates from Passport on their progress, McCarthy said. In the meantime, McCarthy and the Town Court are going to tackle a backlog of unpaid tickets stretching back to 2017. They will send notices to those who have not paid their fines.

"We'll check the Department of Motor Vehicles website for current owner data and generate certified letters to people in an attempt to resolve that backlog. We'll do that as they are still building [the software]," McCarthy said.

The software will also allow town employees to take a photo of the violation so the ticket-payer can see their infraction when they go to pay the ticket online.

McCarthy said the town does not use parking tickets as a revenue booster, and that, at best, the new technology will be revenue neutral or provide a small boost through better compliance.

What's more important, he said, is making sure that people are parking on the correct side of the road, in appropriate spaces, and making ticket payment easier for everyone.

"That's all we want. I think it's a positive development," he said.

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