Parking has been a hot topic in City Council this year.
Numerous resolutions have been passed to do everything from expand metered parking in the downtown Jamestown area to the establishment of an administrative tribunal to help deal with the roughly $300,000 in unpaid parking tickets.
The most recent resolution that was passed extended the city's contract with Complus Data Innovations Inc. until April 30, 2016. CDI, a company that is based out of Tarrytown, provides parking ticket services to the city, including data management and the handheld devices used by parking enforcement officers.
City officials have been working for much of the year on resolutions that will ease the problem of parking in downtown, including passing measures to establish administrative tribunals, increase metered parking and, most recently, renew a contract with Complus Data Innovations Inc.
P-J photos by Ryan Atkins
"This is our second contract with Complus," said Jim Olson, city clerk. "They provide the software that we use here in City Hall and the handheld devices that the parking enforcement officers use. The software that they provide is what we use to go in and check the status of tickets. It's worked very well so we felt that it was important to stay with the same group."
As part of the contract that the city has with CDI, the company is paid 14 percent of the total parking ticket collections during the period of the contract. Between 2007-11, the city averaged roughly $219,000 per year in revenue from parking violations. For 2013, the budget included an estimated $210,000 in revenue from that source. This means that if the budget is correct CDI will be paid roughly $30,000 for their services in 2013.
According to Olson, from a reporting standpoint, he and city Comptroller Joe Bellitto felt that the price was justified.
"We try to work with the individuals with unpaid tickets and try to work through the court."
"They provide us the handhelds," Olson said. "If there's any type of maintenance issue, they take it and send us a new one, and they re-up the handhelds for every contract. I think the cost is warranted for the amount of information that we get."
The previous company that the city contracted with required the city to purchase their own handheld units for parking enforcement officers.
Olson also said the handheld devices that are provided by CDI help parking enforcement officers to better track delinquent tickets.
"On the handhelds, there's a screen that pops up to let us know if someone has more than $150 in unpaid parking tickets," Olson said. "The city code allows us to either boot or tow the vehicle, at that point."
If a vehicle is booted or towed, the owner must then pay the entire outstanding amount before it will be released to them. That amounts to $50 for booting to have the device removed, or, if the car is towed, it would include all of the charges and impound fees.
The city currently has a contract with Allpro Parking for the two boots that are available.
"When one of the parking enforcement officers is in need of a boot, they call Allpro and it's put on the offending vehicle," Olson said. "They attach a sticker to the car to let the owner know that they need to settle the outstanding parking violations, and once the individual has settled the parking tickets, they take the boot off the car. If the boot is still on the car after 4 p.m., though, the boot is removed by Allpro and the car is towed."
For those with more hefty outstanding sums, there is an arrangement between the city and the city court that allows people with more than $300 in parking tickets to have legal action taken against them.
"The court is good from the standpoint allowing us to do that," Olson said. "We try to work with the individuals with unpaid tickets and try to work through the court."
According to Olson, there is roughly $300,000 in unpaid parking violations at this time.
"We try to be aggressive," Olson said. "People move constantly, and that makes it difficult, but we do our best to get a payment. If an individual signs a payment agreement but fails to pay the city, the corporation council can take them back to court to do whatever they need, including garnishing wages."
In an effort to ease back on the amount of cases being brought to the city court, City Council passed a resolution earlier this year to establish an administrative tribunal that would oversee parking violations. When the possibility of an administrative tribunal was first approached, Olson explained that the examiners who would be appointed to the council would be required to be practicing attorneys with at least five to seven years of local experience, and that the positions would be volunteer based. Before the tribunal could officially be put into action, however, the home rule requests needed to be brought before the state legislature.
"The measure was passed in the Senate, but unfortunately there was no vote in the Assembly during this session," Olson said. "We'll apply again in the January 2014 session, though, and see if Sen. Young and Assemblyman Goodell can help us get the request processed."