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Exclusive: How many parking fines go unpaid?

August 17, 2018 10:49 AM

Rate hikes for parking downtown are on the city council's calendar to be approved next week.

It's a move to raise revenue for the City of Rochester.

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But, News10NBC learned there are a lot of parking fees that the city has failed to collect.

"It's kind of like a cash grab, like they're trying to just get the money from somewhere and I think it's the wrong place," said Christopher Wilke, a Rochester resident. 

You take a quick poll downtown and you'll find a majority feel slighted by the plan to raise parking prices.

"Obviously, 50-cents or a dollar isn't going to make a big deal all the time, but it adds up," said Kelly Cheatle who works in downtown Rochester. 

The city's original plan to extend parking meter hours would have raised about $225,000 in additional revenue.

The 50-cent hourly increase that will be voted on next week is projected to bring in about $300,000 annually.

Chief of staff for the City of Rochester Alex Yudelson explained, "In the grand scheme of a $47- million budget gap, that's not a huge difference or huge amount, but there's a lot of things we had to do in order to balance our budget."

But, News10NBC learned parking tickets add up to big bucks for the city.

In 2016, the last year we have the full data for, the city handed out over $5.5 million in parking tickets and fees.

"It doesn't seem like a good idea to promote your city and have people that want to come from the suburbs and the outer lying areas only to try and find places to park, to end up with a parking ticket," added Wilke. 

The problem is, how many of those fines and fees go unpaid? 

In 2016, the city lost out on about $1.5 million in unpaid parking tickets.

The biggest offender owes $3,600 in fines and over 100 people have a tab of over $1,000 in unpaid tickets.

And it's not a small problem. Thirty-five thousand vehicles currently owe money in overdue parking tickets.

The total over the past four years, over $5 million uncollected. 

That could offset the 50-cent meter increase for the next 18 years. Instead, residents like Wilke are forced to pick up the tab.

A frustrated Wilke added, "This isn't right. You're putting this burden on people. That's not really fair."

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