Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Better Way to Collect Parking Fines

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.


  1. Past City budgets confirm that the revenue from parking fees is in the $200K to $250K range each year. What is less clear is how much the City has to pay out for equipment, uniforms, salaries and benefits to reap these monies.

  2. Parking at 25 cents/a quarter per hour, $2.00 a day, is a bargain.
    Another parking perk that could benefit Hudson, merchants, employees, etc. would be to offer a prepaid parking sticker that would adhere to the inside of your windshield on the passenger side. The parking sticker could be paid in January & cover 6 mos. or a year of parking costs.

  3. The entire parking fine system is Hudson needs to be re-vamped and not privatized. All that needs to be done is put parking stations on each block, as most cities now do, with centralized parking receipt machines.

    Have you ever seen how the meters are emptied of quarters? Some just comes by with galvanized buckets and empties the quarters - no controls, no accounting, just loose quarters sloshing around in the trunk of his car. Crazy. There is no way of telling how many quarters were retrieved form each meter. That has to tell you something when there is more interest in giving a contract to a private corporation rather than having controls how where the collected coins go.

  4. Perhaps it makes sense to turn this enormous backlog over to a private company, for now. In time, though, if Hudson is still using meters, wouldn't it be better to have the operation locally managed, putting city residents to work instead of sending the funds out of county? (At least they'll be going to Tarrytown, and not out of state.) Maybe better processes can be learned and then brought in-house.

    1. Eliminating individual parking meters have no impact on the fine collection process or meter enforcement. It just eliminates the handling of all that loose change and eliminates the thousands of mechanical devices that inevitably breakdown and need repair and maintenance. This is the 21st century!