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PARKatlanta allowed to increase fines

6:43 AM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to authorize PARKatlanta to charge more for parking tickets.

RELATED | PARKatlanta may soon be on 24-hour patrol

Right now, tickets are $25, but Monday's vote will cause them to jump to $35 -- a price that will double if the ticket is not paid within 14 days. After 45 days, unpaid tickets will cost $95.

The fine hike would help the city of Atlanta recover lost revenue after a 2011 court ruling allowed the parking enforcement company to pay the city only $1.5 million per year -- down from the original $5.5 million a year in 2009 -- due to the city ordering PARKatlanta to cut back enforcement.

At the council meeting on Monday, prior to the vote, no one rose to the defense of PARKatlanta.

One Atlanta driver, for example, who appeared before the council to speak against the hike could have been speaking for all of PARKatlanta's critics as she expressed her own outrage.

Audraine Jackson of Atlanta described how she has received parking tickets despite being parked legally and how much time it took her to fight the tickets in court and win.

She said she even got a ticket while simply waiting for another driver who was pulling out of a parking space.

Jackson said Monday evening after the council approved the increased fines that the council should first have made sure that PARKatlanta was enforcing the parking ordinances correctly.

"I truly understand the economic part, we do need the money," Jackson said.  "If you need more money, fine. But with that more money should have been some protections for the citizens... I have had several tickets written to me in error.  And I have had to tie up hours and hours of resources" to prove they were issued in error.   

PARKatlanta is not commenting.

The vote on the council was eight to four in favor of raising the fines.

Those voting against the fine increases:

Felicia Moore
Howard Shook
Ivory Lee Young
Alex Wan

During the long discussion prior to the vote, none of the eight said a word in support of PARKatlanta, or in support of the higher fines.

No one with Mayor Kasim Reed's office responded to 11Alive's requests for comment.

Council Member Felicia Moore expressed regret for supporting, back in 2009, hiring PARKatlanta to handle the city's parking enforcement.

"I did not know it was going to turn out to be the monster that it has," Moore said prior to Monday's vote.  "And as I said in committee, I'm not into feeding the monster.  Especially without any controls.  We have some enforcement issues that we really need to fix.  And I would like for us to fix them as much as we possibly can before we start increasing the fines and make it more difficult on the public."

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