Parking Tickets Increase 70 Percent Over Last May

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COLUMBIA - May 2011 was a good month for ticket writing, according to a report Columbia City officials delivered Tuesday. The city wrote 6,705 tickets in May 2011, totaling $70,110 in fines. That number is up significantly from last year when the city gave out 3,916 tickets for a total of $21,660.

"It is a very significant increase," said Jim Settle, the parking supervisor for the city. "I believe it's just a new perception that is going through the parking utility that we do have a job to do, and we are going to do it to the best of our ability."

Settle started as supervisor of the parking utility in April 2011. He said employees are not doing anything differently nor are they out to get anybody. They are just doing their job.

"The City Council makes the policy and we put that into a city ordinance. It's not our enforcement officers that are making the rules. We are just enforcing what the city has agreed upon," said Settle.

The May increase in fines follows a trend of more and more tickets given out each month in 2011 compared to last year. In March, the first month that parking fines doubled in Columbia, the city gave out 520 more tickets this year over last. This April the city gave out 1,392 more tickets. In May, the city gave out 2,789 more tickets over last May. That's an increase of about 71 percent.

Despite the significant increase, Ward 3 council member Gary Kespohl said the parking utility doesn't have a quota. "It just happens that they gave out more tickets," said Kespohl.

In fact, they gave out 2,789 more tickets.

"People need to understand that money in the city just doesn't appear,"  said Kespohl. "The citizens pay for everything."

Settle said if people pay the meters, the money goes to the city's parking utility. However, each time they write a ticket that money goes to the city's general fund.

"I would rather not be writing tickets," said Settle. "I would prefer the residents of Columbia and the visitors coming in just feed the meters and not write tickets."