Scrambling for cash, Detroit pursues aggressive crackdown on parking ticket scofflaws

parking bootThe last time Mayor Dave Bing tried to crack down on parking ticket scofflaws, the city of Detroit forgot to update the meters to begin enforcing extended hours. Then a company hired to collect money from new electronic parking meters bailed out because of frustrations with the city. Many of those meters no longer work.

Now Bing wants to increase parking fines and ramp up enforcement. Three delinquent tickets – instead of the current six – would get your car booted and your license revoked under an arrangement with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The revenue-generating plan was included in the mayor’s 2013-13 budget proposal and would need approved by new Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Bing’s ambitious plan aims to raise an additional $1.4 million from parking violations.

Past efforts haven’t been so successful. Despite spending more to enforce parking violations and collect fines, records show the city collected $500,000 less last year than it did in 2011. The $11.4 million that the city collected from parking scofflaws last year fell far short of the administration’s fluctuating estimates.

But much of the fault falls on motorists, about two-thirds of whom don’t pay their tickets, according to city records. Bing hopes to improve the collection rate to 50% with more aggressive enforcement.

The city has about 36 parking enforcement officers, each of whom issue an average 66 tickets a day, records show.

Detroit City Council is expected to soon hold a public hearing on the mayor’s $1 billion budget proposal.

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Steve Neavling, who lives on the city’s east side, is an investigative journalist, a freelance reporter for Reuters and former city hall reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Neavling explores corruption, Detroit’s unsung heroes and the underbelly of an oft-misunderstood city.

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.