City council raises parking fines

Council says increase needed to pay for the cost of collecting fines.

Because of heavier fines, students who park in Muncie will have to start watching the clock or watching their wallets.

By a vote of 8-1, Muncie City Council approved an amendment raising parking fines from $10 to $15. Fines for parking in handicapped spaces or blocking fire lanes will increase from $25 to $50.

However, people now have 33 days to pay the fines before a late fee is levied, as opposed to 31 under the old system.

The increase is a solution to a growing discrepancy between fines accrued and the cost to collect them. Councilman Sam Marshall said the city spends about $165,000 a year to collect them, but last year, the clerk's office collected only $133,323.

"The money generated is not going to increase unless we (raise fines)," said Glenn Scroggins, Muncie's building commissioner.

Councilman David Taylor said the fine increase -- the first of its kind since 1986 -- puts Muncie in line with other second-class cities, such as Anderson and Marion. He said there was no consideration of increasing late fees.

Funds have decreased over the past few years, Scroggins said. In 1997, about $190,000 was collected. In 1999, $168,000 was collected.

The only dissent from council came from councilwoman Mary Jo Barton. She disapproved of a 100 percent increase in fines for parking in handicapped spaces. She also said she thought the council approved the amendments too hastily.

Burris Laboratory School senior Kyle DeWees addressed the council, saying the fines charged students who have no place to park.

"When the city is making a profit out of going to school, that's wrong," DeWees said.

DeWees asked the council to increase the parking time allowed from two hours to three for six months. The extra hour, he said, would give students time during lunch to move their cars.

Currently, students are given parking passes for a specified lot. That lot, though, is full by 8 a.m., DeWees said.

Marshall asked if DeWees and the student president had taken it up with Burris' principal. DeWees said he had taken it up with both the principal and Ball State Parking Services and had gotten no where.

Council could not help him either. The members told him that expanding the time limit was an administration issue that should be taken up with Scroggins.


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