Youngstown looks to overhaul its parking meters enforcement to generate more money

Published: Tue, June 18, 2019 @ 12:05 a.m.

Overhaul would result in more money for city

By David Skolnick


City council will consider legislation Wednesday to change its parking meters ordinance that is the start of a program to overhaul the policy, including adding more meters, charging later at night and on weekends and negotiating with a company to handle collections.

The city administration is negotiating with Sensys Gatso USA of Beverly, Mass., to install more than 100 new meters over the next two to three months and oversee the collection of fines, said city Law Director Jeff Limbian.

The city is looking to add more parking meters to the central business district, especially the east side of downtown, where few currently exist, as well as more near the Youngstown State University campus, Limbian said. The policy would generate money for the city though Limbian didn’t have an estimate on how much.

“We’ve been leaving money on the street so to speak,” he said.

The city plans to step up enforcement of parking-meter violators, Limbian said, through the police department and/or ABM Parking Services, a private company that has a contract with the city to write parking tickets.

This comes a month after Clerk of Courts Sarah Brown-Clark called for council to consider legislation to crackdown on those who ignore dozens of parking tickets. That legislation hasn’t been introduced, but would allow police to put tire boots and/or windshield barnacles on vehicles of repeat offenders.

There are more than $1 million in unpaid tickets, most of them written on cars downtown and near the YSU campus. The top 120 offenders, who would be the main targets of the crackdown, owe about $170,000 combined in unpaid tickets.

Legislation being introduced at council would repeal the current parking meters ordinance and replace it with one that’s similar but with more precise and tougher language.

In particular, motorists would be required to pay for parking at meters from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Currently, paying to park at meters is enforced from 8 a.m. to 6 or 8 p.m., depending on the location, on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays in the central business district. Enforcement, however, is rare after 5 p.m. and on Saturdays.

Parking tickets are $10. The cost goes up to $20 if it’s not paid after 20 days and to $30 if it’s unpaid after 30 days.

Tickets for parking in handicapped spots is $25, and increases to $50 if not paid after 10 days.

The administration may ask council to raise those fees, but not at this time, Limbian said.

If the city comes to an agreement with Sensys Gatso, Limbian said, smart meters – that allow the use of credit cards as well as money and allow motorists and those enforcing the parking laws to monitor when the time on the meters are expiring – would be installed in two to three months.

The city also still intends to move ahead with windshield barnacles and/or tire boots on the worst parking-ticket offenders, Limbian said. Until he paid about $2,300 in parking tickets a year ago, Limbian was among the top 20 worst offenders.

The city started a speeding-citation program that has police officers use radar guns in August 2015 to issue citations to violators. That program generates about $900,000 annually for the police department. The collections are processed by Optotraffic, a Lanham, Md., company that provided the cameras and keeps 35 percent of the fees.

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