Fulton Mayor eliminates parking enforcement officer's job

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FULTON - Fulton Mayor LeRoy D. Benton announced during a city council meeting Tuesday that he will eliminate parking enforcement in the town, which also means eliminating someone's job. 

Tuesday night's agenda did not originally include the announcement, but Benton said after receiving multiple complaints over the past three months about the parking tickets, he decided to eliminate the enforcement.

The three hour parking limit in the Fulton Brick District will now be enforced by the Fulton Police Department. If a shop owner complains about a car overstaying the parking limit, he or she will now call the police instead of having a parking officer constantly police the area. 

While some shop owners and pedestrians in Fulton are pleased with the decision, others are not happy including the parking enforcement officer whom is not out of a job. 

Toni Michelle, the former Fulton parking enforcement officer, was shocked by the Mayor's decision. Michelle said she was not informed formally of her termination until late afternoon Wednesday. 

Michelle said she feels discrimination, not complaints, caused the mayor and police chief to get rid of her position. Michelle said she is suffering from Muscular Sclerosis and has filed for four ten hour weeks multiple times.  

On July 14th the city denied Michelle shorter work weeks and she applied again with a physician's request on July 23rd, but was again denied. A few weeks later Michelle was finally granted four-day work weeks, but with only eight hours a day, cutting her work hours from 40 to 32 hours. 

The parking new Fulton ordinance that went into place in July 2012 allowed cars to park for three hours instead of two, but the ticket prices increased from $5 to $20.  Michelle said once the ordinance went into place, the city had received more money from parking tickets than ever before.

She said before Tuesday there was "no indication of dissatisfaction" from the Chief, and she said "maybe it's coincidence but it seems retaliatory to me."

Michelle has since filed a complaint to the Commission on Human Rights.

Mayor Benton said in his opinion his decision was not an abuse of power and said other councilmen were on board with his decision Tuesday as well.