Detroit of­fi­cial tar­gets park­ing fines

The Detroit News - - Nation & World - BY CANDICE WIL­LIAMS The Detroit News

The city’s steep park­ing tick­ets could be slashed and an early pay­ment dis­count re­in­stated un­der a pro­posal be­ing in­tro­duced by Detroit City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Pro Tem Mary Sh­effield.

Sh­effield on Fri­day said she plans to in­tro­duce an amend­ment to the city’s park­ing fines in the com­ing weeks as part of a leg­isla­tive pack­age coined the Peo­ple’s Bills that also will cover wa­ter af­ford­abil­ity, poverty tax ex­emp­tions and other hu­man rights is­sues.

De­tails of the leg­is­la­tion, Sh­effield said aims to ad­dress some of the most “press­ing so­cioe­co­nomic and hu­man rights is­sues” fac­ing Detroi­ters, are set to be un­veiled dur­ing a Mon­day press con­fer­ence in front of the Spirit of Detroit Statue at the Cole­man A. Young Mu­nic­i­pal Cen­ter.

“When I was elected to the Detroit City Coun­cil, I promised to of­fer a more open, trans­par­ent and rep­re­sen­ta­tive form of gov­ern­ment to Detroi­ters,” Sh­effield said. “The in­tro­duc­tion of the Peo­ple’s Bills is the direct re­sult of that prom­ise and my at­tempt to give the peo­ple a voice in the pub­lic pol­icy process and cre­ate a cli­mate in Detroit by which all Detroi­ters have the op­por­tu­nity to pros­per and im­prove their qual­ity of life.”

Sh­effield said her amend­ment to the city’s park­ing park­ing or­di­nance that would lower tick­ets from $45 to $30 for ex­pired me­ters and no park­ing vi­o­la­tions, she said. The 10-day grace pe­riod that re­duces fines by 50 per­cent would also be re­in­stated.

The park­ing fine hikes were pre­vi­ously ap­proved by former emer­gency manager Kevyn Orr as a rev­enue gen­er­a­tor for the city dur­ing its bank­ruptcy.

Mayor Mike Dug­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is al­ready rais­ing is­sue with Sh­effield’s plan on claims it would re­sult in the loss of $2 mil­lion an­nu­ally from the post-bank­rupt city’s bud­get. Alexis Wi­ley, Dug­gan’s chief of staff, said the pro­posed plan pro­vides no ex­pla­na­tion on how the city would re­place the $2 mil­lion.

Detroit, which re­cently was re­leased from strict fi­nan­cial over­sight put in place as a con­di­tion of its bank­ruptcy exit, is re­quired to have a bal­anced bud­get, she noted.

“That’s the kind of de­ci­sion mak­ing that got us into emer­gency man­age­ment in the first place,” Wi­ley said. “You’ve got to find a way to re­place it. It’s a re­quire­ment to have a bal­anced bud­get. I think there are se­ri­ous ques­tions that should be asked whether this drives us back to where we once were.”

The City Coun­cil voted to re­vise Detroit’s park­ing or­di­nance in July 2015. The move estab­lished vary­ing zones and a “pay-by­plate” park­ing sys­tem through­out the city, most with steeper rates.

With the new sys­tem, the city gen­er­ated $12.5 mil­lion in the 2016 fis­cal year and $12.8 mil­lion in the 2017 fis­cal year, the ad­min­is­tra­tion said.

The fine changes ap­proved by Orr in­creased tick­ets from $30, $50 and $80 to $45, $65 and $95, re­spec­tively, for park­ing vi­o­la­tions and late fees. A $10 rate for early pay­ment was also elim­i­nated.

The move sparked a class-ac­tion law­suit late last year with plain­tiffs call­ing the higher park­ing fines un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Sh­effield said she’ll be propos­ing an early-pay­ment dis­count, which would re­duce a $30 fine to $15 for pay­ments made within 10 days. Late-pay­ment penal­ties would drop from $65 to $50 af­ter 30 days, and $95 to $80 af­ter 60 days, she said.

Wi­ley said it’s not the city lead­er­ship’s job to bring peo­ple down­town, but to make sure that Detroit has the abil­ity to pro­vide for peo­ple through­out our city, in­clud­ing those liv­ing in the neigh­bor­hoods.

“If coun­cil were to vote on this to­mor­row to cut rev­enue by $2 mil­lion it would blow up the four-year bud­get be­cause the four-year bud­get as­sumes that $2 mil­lion in rev­enue,” Wi­ley said. “So ba­si­cally, the bud­get would no longer be bal­anced. One of the things that got us out of fi­nan­cial over­sight was the fact that we had three years of con­sec­u­tive bal­anced bud­gets.”

Sh­effield said she’s will­ing to have dis­cus­sions with the city’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. She said that the money from park­ing fines was pre­vi­ously go­ing to pay bonds that are no longer in place.

“I don’t know if it’s re­ally about mak­ing up the dif­fer­ence. It’s money that was ded­i­cated to bonds that are now paid off,” said Sh­effield, who also con­tends the $2 mil­lion “pales in com­par­i­son” to the hun­dreds of mil­lions the ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­poses in tax abate­ments.

“This is about cre­at­ing a fair sys­tem for Detroi­ters when it comes to park­ing,” she said.

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