Champaign City Council votes to revise parking fines

By Angelica Lavito

The Champaign City Council revised parking fines for the first time since 2007, with a vote of 6-2, at its meeting Tuesday night.

With the new legislation, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, violators will not have to pay a fine for their first expired parking meter citation within 365 days. If violators receive a second citation, they will be fined $15. If they receive a third or fourth citation, the fine will increase to $25. For five or more citations, violators will be charged $35. 

Before, the fine was $10 per citation regardless of how many expired parking meter tickets the offender had previously received. The new policy gives first-time violators a warning and increases the fine with each citation a vehicle receives.

In 2013, nearly 25,000 tickets were written for first-time expired parking meter violations, according to a report to City Council. Staff expects the higher fines for repeated violations to encourage compliance with parking meter time limitations.

“The whole idea behind these penalties related to parking is not so much to generate revenue as to create and sustain deterrence so that there is circulation,” said Council Member Michael LaDue, District 2. “It’s much, much better for the businesses. It’s about the most fair way to distribute a limited resource.”

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    If a violator fails to pay the fine after seven days, he will be charged an additional $5. If one still does not pay the fine after 30 days, he must pay another $10. 

    The changes are expected to generate $157,000 to help operate the city’s parking system, according to a study session report. Karen Foster, council member-at-large, voted against the resolution because she thinks the $157,000 could be found elsewhere, such as the funds generated from last year’s sales tax increase. 

    “The reason I’m opposed to the schedule on late fees is we already have fees in place for those and this is just adding additional fees that I don’t feel are necessary to do,” Foster said. 

    The council bill also increases the fines for prohibited violations including permit parking only, head-in parking only, reserved parking, no parking from 3 to 5 a.m., not within lines and manner of parking from either $10 or $20 to $30. 

    The cost increase is expected to bring in approximately $87,000 based on the citations issued in 2013, according to the report.

    Angelica can be reached at [email protected].