Last night's Common Council meeting was much tamer than last week's informal meeting. The Council decided not to vote on the resolution to override the mayor's veto of the aldermen's request for their own attorney, instead accepting the judgment that, according to Section 201 of New York Consolidated Law, Second Class Cities, "The corporation counsel shall be and act as the legal adviser of the common council and of the several officers, boards and departments of the city." The slate of appointees to the Tourism Board--Jeff Hunt, David Brown, Ellen Thurston, and Jamie Smith Quinn--was unanimously accepted. The resolution to increase the fee for removing a boot installed on cars with three unpaid parking tickets, however, did not fare as well.
Because the request for the increase had originated with the Hudson Police Department, Chief Ed Moore had been asked to appear at the meeting to provide some background. He explained that the law making booting the penalty for unpaid parking tickets had been enacted in May 2011. In March 2016, the practice of booting was suspended by Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton because some cars that were booted ended up also getting towed because the overdue parking fines, which had to be paid before the boot could be removed, could not be paid on the weekend.
So, for the past two years, cars have not been booted, and people have been racking up fines that go unpaid. Moore said there were literally hundreds of outstanding tickets, and the City has lost revenue, because people think if they don't pay their fines, there will be no consequences. Because people can now pay their outstanding tickets at the police station, which is open every day, 24 hours a day, Moore thought it was time to bring back the boot, but the towing companies that install and remove the boots wanted more money to come back into Hudson to perform this service. When the practice was initiated in 2011, the fee was $110; now they want $150. Moore pointed out this was the going rate and what was charged in Kingston and Albany.
At the outset, Council president Tom DePietro told the aldermen that the resolution before them was about raising the fine for removing the boot; it was not about booting or not booting. Still, it seemed to end up being about booting. Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) worried that people wouldn't be able to afford $40 more to have the boot removed. When Moore said $150 was charged in Kingston and Albany, Garriga had protested that they were bigger cities. Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) opined that there should be an alternative to booting. Rob Bujan (First Ward) said he was researching the alternatives and suggested perhaps preventing people from renewing the registration on their cars if they don't pay their tickets. Moore warned, "That comes with a price." It wasn't clear what he meant, but if the idea is to motivate people to pay their parking fines before they amass huge numbers of tickets and accumulate astronomical fines, threatening to prevent them from doing something they only do every two years doesn't seem to be a very effective approach.
In the end, every alderman voted against raising the boot removal fee. A resolution to raise the fine for a parking meter violation from $8 to $10, passed 7 to 3, with Garriga, Kamal Johnson (First Ward), and Calvin Lewis (Third Ward) dissenting.
The question of the boot reminds me of the bad old days in Hudson, a dozen or so years ago, when nonpayment of parking tickets could result in a criminal summons, and offenders were taken from their homes and marched in handcuffs to the police station.
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