City parking enforcement makes Newark $1 million
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 02:04
In the middle of Sunday’s afternoon rainstorm, Newark parking enforcement officer Alexander McNeill stopped his truck on Main Street behind a row of cars and began checking the parking meters.
Although he said the weather may have been unpleasant, it didn’t excuse those who parked their cars next to meters that had expired or didn’t pay to park. He issued four tickets for illegally parked vehicles.
“People think Sundays are still free,” McNeill said. “They’re only free in the morning. Parking on Sundays hasn’t been free for a few years now.”
Since city officials began charging for parking on Sundays and increasing fees for violations during the last three years and hired more personnel, Newark’s parking division has increased its revenue by more than $1 million.
In 2009, the revenue from parking meters and violations was just over $1.2 million, according to the city’s general operating budget. The proposed budget for 2012 shows the city made about $2.3 million last year in parking, an increase of 89 percent.
Newark Mayor Vance A. Funk III said the change in revenue was due to an increase in the fine for parking violations and parking meter enforcement on Sundays.
Three years ago, then-city manager Kyle Sonnenberg promoted increasing the fees for parking tickets because he thought enforcement was becoming a financial burden to the city.
Funk said Sonnenberg’s proposal, produced after a cost-analysis of the city’s parking costs, determined that the city was short of a few hundred thousand dollars.
“We were only charging people $5 when they got a ticket,” Funk said. “If you look at any other city in the state, they are charging much more than that. Even the university charges, what, $40? So our tickets are still less than theirs.”
Newark police spokesman MCpl. Gerald Bryda said the city has received a steady flow of revenue because of the changes to Sunday parking enforcement, which has remained consistent since their implementation.
“You can look at our numbers for tickets and they have remained the same over the past three years,” Bryda said. “We consistently get the status quo.”
Funk said parking attendants used to sign up for their desired schedules, which caused Saturday and Sunday shifts to be so sparingly staffed that some residents thought parking was free on weekends for several years.
“My wife and I went into town one day,” Funk said. “We were sitting out on a patio of one of the restaurants and I noticed that no one was feeding the meters. I asked the waiter what was going on and he said, ‘That’s the local joke, everyone knows you can’t get tickets in Newark on the weekend.’”
Funk said he called the police department and it hired more staff members approximately one week later.
He said the increase in enforcement is valuable for local businesses. Those parking on Main Street were not necessarily shopping or dining at local businesses before enforcement was increased.
Shauna Tonkin, former executive director of International Programs at Regent University in Virginia, visited Newark recently and received a ticket after her meter expired on Monday afternoon.
Tonkin said she was eating lunch with a friend in Panera Bread on Main Street and had been running in and out of the restaurant to continuously feed the meter. She said the meters, which cost 25 cents for 12 minutes, become difficult to use without spending a significant amount of money.
“I think the problem is the meters are so expensive,” Tonkin said. “A lot of the businesses will begin to suffer.”
Junior Olivia Cosides, who has a car on campus, said she has noticed a change in the past year in the way the city’s parking division has been enforcing illegally parked vehicles.
“They could be using these extra people for other things,” Cosides said. “It’s ridiculous that I can’t walk at night because I’m afraid of getting attacked, so I need to drive. The cops are giving tickets for parking but they’re not protecting people around campus.”