Chief Ed Moore wants to outsource the parking ticket bureau, because he doesn't think the police department should be in the business of collecting fines and chasing delinquent tickets, and he's probably right. As a consequence, the City has been pursuing a plan to hand parking ticket management over to Complus Data Innovations. Sadly, it came to light at Monday night's informal Common Council meeting that a couple of the things that made this move appealing to the average Hudson resident--the convenience of paying parking tickets online and the possibility of the City recouping $600,000 to $800,000 in unpaid parking fines and penalties--are not exactly the case.
The first disappointment was learning that, if Complus takes over, the convenience of paying parking fines online is going to cost an extra $3.50 per ticket. So the penalty for not getting back to your car in time to put another quarter in the meter before one of Hudson's ubiquitous meter monitors slaps a ticket on it will go from $8.00 to $11.50, if you want to pay the fine quickly and conveniently before you forget about the ticket and incur further fines and penalties.
The second disappointment was that it's unlikely the City will recoup anything like $600,000 to $800,000. That amount represents unpaid parking fees going back ten years. Complus is predicting they will succeed in collecting about half the unpaid fees going back only a year or two.
City treasurer Heather Campbell said it was unclear what the financial implications of outsourcing the ticket bureau might be. She noted that last year's collection rate was 80 percent: 50 percent of those were paid on time; 50 percent were paid late. She also pointed out that the revenue line item in the city budget relies to some extent on late payments. She suggested that it might make sense to hire someone just to collect back revenue as opposed to outsourcing the ticket bureau.
Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) suggested that if the City could adopt a way for people to pay their fines online, presumably without being charged an exorbitant fee for doing so, "we wouldn't need to outsource."
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