Authority upping parking fines|
The boss of the Parking Authority said that increasing the basic meter fine by 25 percent, to $25, is a "business friendly" strategy that will open up thousands of parking spaces now dominated by all-day parkers who prefer the street and tickets to the garage. And City Council's Streets and Services Committee yesterday quickly agreed to the first major revision of parking fines in four years. The full City Council will vote on the bill next Thursday. In all, there are about 50 changes, including double parking rising from $35 to $50, and boot and towing fees jumping $25 to $100 and $125, respectively. The whopper increase is for parking on a limited-access highway like the access roads near Philadelphia International Airport. The fine jumps from $35 to $100. Making his pitch for the business-friendly increase, Vincent J. Fenerty Jr., executive director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, noted, "It is now cheaper in many parts of the city to park at a meter and pay the ticket than it is to park all day in a garage." During a normal business day, five motorists will park at the typical parking space. All-day parkers create a ripple effect through the city, forcing displaced motorists into garages, circling the block and increasing congestion or parking illegally. Fenerty said the cost of legal parking has not changed since 1991. City Councilman Jack Kelly, who introduced the bill, said his measure will make parking spaces in Center City more accessible. Fenerty said in an effort to help low-income motorists, the bill increases the time to pay from eight to 15 days. The penalty also drops from $23 to $20. But failure to pay within 30 days will cost more, $25, up from $15. The new fine schedule will mean added revenue for the city's general fund. City Finance Director Vincent Jannetti said the new fines will add $6 million a year to the city treasury. He said the new funds are vital to balance the city's Five-Year Plan, which is now being reviewed by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, the state fiscal watchdog. For registered contractors, the fee for a parking placard will rise from $125 to $200. The placards allow the contractor to park at a meter without paying.