Local News

Fee means Raleigh can grab more late ticket money from tax refunds

Posted June 6, 2012 5:09 p.m. EDT
Updated June 6, 2012 6:51 p.m. EDT

— The City Council voted Tuesday to tack on an extra fee for tardy payment of parking tickets, allowing Raleigh to tap the tax returns of first-time offenders to get the money it's owed.

Raleigh officials estimate that drivers owe the city $3.2 million in parking tickets, so the city put its foot down last year and began intercepting the state income tax refund of anyone with more than $50 in unpaid parking citations that are more than six months delinquent in order to pay off their bill.

During the first five months of the program, the city collected $314,000, City Manager Russell Allen said.

"We really do believe that our citizens expect us to make every effort we can to collect from people who have legitimate citations or other amounts they owe the city and make sure we use every method to collect those," Allen said Wednesday.

The new late fee, which is effective in October, takes the program a step further.

A $20 parking citation that isn't paid on time nets the driver a $20 late fee. The added $10 late fee kicks in if the ticket remains unpaid after six months, pushing even first-time offenders past the $50 threshold so the city can intercept their tax refunds.

"That's still not right with them just taking it out of my state refund. What if I had that set aside for something else important?" said driver Whitney Campbell, who got a parking ticket downtown Wednesday.

Drivers will get several warning letters first, and some people said that's more than enough notice.

"Make the bill, pay it. Simple as that," driver Sam Frederick said.