Cities near and far that take themselves seriously as tourist destinations have done away with parking meters, examples being Rhinebeck, Millerton, Great Barrington, Saratoga Springs, and the city where Gossips was born and raised, Holland, Michigan (thanks to Sam Pratt for his part in generating this list), but here in Hudson we're looking to professionalize the way we collect fines and visit retribution upon scofflaws.
At Monday night's informal Common Council meeting, HPD Chief Ed Moore announced the plan to organize the parking bureau into "something that has more standards," by turning the revenue management over to Complus Data Innovations, Inc., thus eliminating the police department's involvement in collecting parking fines and pursuing payment. Moore prefaced his announcement by saying that the City's annual revenue from parking meters is a quarter of a million dollars and an equal amount is taken in from parking fines, but, he pointed out, another "$500,000 goes uncollected, and the figure is getting larger every year."
To the chagrin of Hudson residents who have been browbeaten into paying their parking fines by the threat (or actuality) of hefty penalties, getting their cars booted or towed, or even, as it was in the bad old days, being arrested, handcuffed, and hauled off to court, Moore revealed that, for some, presumably nonresidents, "after the initial letter, it pretty much goes into the wind." The good news for all is that, instead of hoping to experience, in a timely fashion, the confluence of remembering you have a ticket, having the correct amount of money in your pocket ($8 for an expired meter) or your checkbook in hand, and finding a place to park near the police station, with the new system, you will be able to pay your parking fine online using a credit card or maybe even PayPal. You can also go online to "manage" your parking tickets--to confirm that you've paid your fine or find out if you have a ticket that's soon to be overdue.
Complus will also "go after out-of-state scofflaws" and help clear up the half million dollar backlog of unpaid parking fines. Another advantage: Complus provides all the equipment, which is especially significant since the City's scanning devices, introduced five or so years ago, are "breaking down." Complus will also help the City develop a uniform policy for adjudicating protested parking tickets. They will do all this for 13½
percent of the total revenue, which, if the total revenue is a half million dollars, works out to $67,500. We're told forty-seven cities, both large and small, already use their services, among them Albany, Lake George, Poughkeepsie, and Middletown.
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