City commissioners, Monday, Sept. 17, approved a set of changes designed to incentivize early payment of parking tickets and punish those who wait to pay their tickets.
As a result of these changes, parking-ticket violators would pay an initial late fee of $15 if a ticket were left unpaid for 15 days. Another $15 late fee will be added for each month it goes unpaid, for a total maximum late fine of $45 per ticket.
The previous parking program applied only a one-time late fee of $15.
Another change allows the city to place a hold on the vehicle tags of certain parking violators who have failed to pay their tickets.
It’s not all bad news for ticket recipients, though. The changes offer good news for prompt payers in that the city will discount parking fines by $5 for tickets paid within 24 hours.
Commissioners said they also wanted to see the $5 discount offered to those parking violators who receive a ticket on Saturday and pay the ticket by Monday.
Sarasota Parking Manager Mark Lyons told commissioners the parking changes are meant to increase the likelihood of collecting parking fines, rather than to establish a new method of revenue.
“This is more about getting the collections up,” Lyons said.
Right now, the city’s collection rate is 85% within the first 30 days after a ticket is issued. However, ticket satisfaction dips significantly for violators who wait more than a month to pay a ticket.
“Once they learn there is only one late fee applied, it’s difficult to get some of those to come in and pay,” Lyons said.
The additional late fees, along with the ability to put a hold on a driver’s vehicle tags, are meant to allow the city to collect more of those unpaid tickets.
Commissioners also implemented heftier fines for those who get a boot, or wheel-lock, placed on their car. Those ticket holders will have to pay $75 to get the boot removed — as opposed to the $50 fee assessed previously.
Before a boot gets locked on a car, the driver has to owe $100 in parking fines; have two unpaid parking tickets (without filing an appeal) in 30 days; or receive three parking tickets in a 30-day period.