LOCKPORT – Because of Common Council inaction, Lockport police handed out more than 150 parking tickets since Jan. 1 showing fines the Council hadn’t yet approved.
City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said Thursday that the aldermen agreed during a work session last July to raise the city’s parking fines as of Jan. 1. But they never took a vote at a formal meeting until Wednesday.
“Everybody thought it was done,” Pasceri said.
The Council tried to make Wednesday’s action retroactive to Jan. 1, but Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano put a stop to that, telling the aldermen that retroactivity would be illegal.
The result? Anyone who paid a fine for a parking violation incurred between Jan. 1 and Wednesday afternoon paid too much.
Parking tickets are a substantial source of revenue for the city. Pasceri said her office collected $77,075 in parking fines in 2012.
Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Thursday he opposes any rebate program, but his advice to those who already paid tickets handed out since Jan. 1 is, “They can come to the City Clerk’s Office and we’ll see what we can do for them.”
As for those who have a 2013 parking ticket they haven’t paid yet, Tucker said, “They can go to court, and maybe the judge will dismiss the tickets because they’re improper.”
Police Traffic Capt. Michael F. Niethe recommended the fine increases last summer, saying it was an opportune time to do because the supply of tickets was running low.
The Council agreed to increase the fine for most parking violations from $20 to $30. Tickets for double parking and blocking a fire hydrant were raised from $30 to $40, and the fine for illegal parking in a handicapped space went from $40 to $50.
The city adds $20 to any parking fine if it’s not paid within five business days. Another $25 is added if it’s not paid within 15 business days.
The fines for each type of violation are printed right on the tickets. Niethe had a new supply printed with the higher fines, and officers have been using them since Jan. 1. But the Council had never officially approved the increases.
“Thankfully, there haven’t been a great number of parking tickets the last two weeks,” Pasceri said.