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Raleigh May Seek Help in Recovering Fines

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RALEIGH — If you are the type who tosses parking tickets in the trash rather than pay them, you may soon find that Raleigh is getting serious about collecting those fines.

City officials are considering hiring a private firm to both write parking tickets and handle collection.

Each year, the city receives only about a third of the money due for parking fines.

Many drivers consider the issuance of parking tickets to be a nuisance, and they often remove the unwelcome notices from their windshields and then think no more about them.

But Raleigh Finance Director Perry James says national firms have means to contact scofflaws that are unavailable to the city.

"They would use some national collection tools that we don't have the ability to tap into, and we feel like over time that would enhance our revenue somewhat," James said.

The police, finance and transportation divisions of the city are said to be in favor of cracking down on payments.

Some merchants, however, are less happy about the prospect. They believe that strict enforcement of parking regulations and collection of fines would lead people to shop elsewhere.

The owner of Greenshields restaurant in the old city market area says so-called "meter maids" in front of his business and parking tickets drive customers away.

"Certainly, if you get a ticket you are not going to have enjoyed your day. So anything the city wants to do to change their process of dealing with on-street parking that's going to discourage people from coming downtown or to have an unpleasant experience is not good," Gary Greenshields said.

So far, time is on both sides. City council members still have to be sold on the idea.

Council member Kieran Shanahan said, "We need to make it a user-friendly place, conducive to doing business. And to do that, we need to increase the number of parking spaces. I think we're on our way to doing that, but I don't want to adversely go after this revenue."

Today, the city council sent the proposal to the Public Works Committee for further review.

If it is eventually passed, the main enforcement areas would be downtown and around the N.C. State campus.


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