Columbus to raise parking fines

Ignoring parking laws in Columbus will get more expensive in the near future. 

The city hopes to raise an additional $1.6 million in revenue in 2009 by raising the fines and fees charged for parking violations. The increased charges would help cover the rising costs of enforcing parking laws in the city.

According to the city, the last major change in parking violation penalties was in 2002.

"The cost of fuel, the cost of utilities and personnel costs have changed dramatically since five, eight years ago…it’s incumbent upon us to make sure that folks who are breaking the law in the city of Columbus are paying their fair share," Councilman Andrew Ginther said.

City Engineer Randy Bowman said they looked at other cities, both in Ohio and in surrounding states, to see what they charge for tickets. In many cases, he said, Columbus has charged less for violations.

Most of the changes are about a 25 percent increase over previous fines and fees. The one major increase is the penalty for parking in a no parking zone, which increases from $20 to $50.

Public Service Director Mark Kelsey said he believed this was one of the more serious violations. 

Many in Columbus are wondering if it may be bad timing to raise fees during a downfall in the economy. 

"I come back to, if you obey the law, you won’t pay a dime more," Ginther said. "If you break the law, you’re going to pay more, so I would encourage you, regardless of your socioeconomic status, to obey the law, and you’re going to do just fine."

"This is not going to solve our budget woes in the city of Columbus," Kelsey said, "and it’s not intended to." 

He said what it will achieve is to help keep costs in line.

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