COLUMBIA - New information out Wednesday shows Columbia is increasing its parking enforcement efforts. The city wrote 59 percent more tickets this October compared to the same month last year.
A spokesperson for the city said that the funds collected from the fines go into the city's general fund and do not go to the parking utility or parking garages. The city said it hasn't hired any more parking enforcement officers, although the city had two employees with long-term absences in parts of 2009 and 2010.
The increased ticketing is part of an on going trend since parking ticket fines doubled in March of this year. That is the same month the city opened its 5th and Walnut Parking garage. The city is not only giving out hundreds more tickets, but also making thousands more each month on the tickets.
Since March, the city has given out on average more than 1,900 additional tickets each month this year compared to the same months last year. August, July and October saw the greatest increases. In August, ticketing increased 144 percent and in July, ticketing increased 73 percent. Last year during October, the city wrote $28,215 in tickets. This year, tickets total $60,440.
The overwhelming majority of the tickets given are for expired meters. In October, the city gave out a ticket about once every two minutes during ticketing hours.
The city offers an "EZ-Park card" system. Residents can purchase the pre-paid charge card which allows the user to insert the card at the beginning and end of the parking period time and be reimbursed for anytime not used.
Parking enforcement is Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A spokesperson for the city said the meters are only designed for those who plan to park for two hours or less and invites people to use the parking garages for longer term parking.