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Downtown Fort Wayne parking fines could double

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 9:46 pm

Downtown visitors who forget to feed the parking meter may soon face heftier fines.

Under an ordinance up for introduction to Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday, fines for parking meter violations would double, going from $5 to $10. Tickets that go unpaid for 30 days – which currently double to $10 – would increase to $20.

Penalties for more serious infractions also would double. The ticket for parking in a space reserved for drivers with disabilities would increase from $50, or $75 after 30 days, to $100, increasing to $150 if not paid within 30 days.

"They haven't been increased in many years," said Carol Helton, a city attorney. "At $5, our rate was extremely low" compared with other Midwestern cities, Helton said.

For example, the base rate for a parking meter violation in Grand Rapids and Lansing, Mich., is $20. In Cleveland, it's $25, and in Cincinnati, a parking ticket costs $35, not including late charges, according to Fort Wayne spokesman John Perlich.

The increased parking fines are being introduced to council as part of an updated ordinance that covers all fines collected by the city for civil ordinance violations.

Colin Keeney, parking control supervisor with the city clerk's office, said he doubted the higher penalties would hurt downtown tourism, as the fines would still be lower than in many cities.

"I can't imagine it would scare anybody away from downtown," Keeney said. "By and large, I think anybody would be comfortable saying Fort Wayne's rates are tremendously low."

Bill Brown, director of the Downtown Improvement District, did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment Monday afternoon.

Keeney said the higher fines could bring in more revenue, possibly allowing the clerk's office to look into more user-friendly technology, such as meters that accept credit cards.

In 2011, the office collected about $265,000 from parking violations and another $208,000 from meters, City Clerk Sandy Kennedy said. This year, through Tuesday, parking control officers had issued about 23,000 tickets, according to the office.

Helton said the city Board of Public Safety is considering a separate proposal that would double hourly rates at parking meters from 25 cents to 50 cents.