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Chief wants village to assess, collect parking fines



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October 12, 2011 - Oxford Village Police Chief Mike Neymanowski is working on a proposal to basically cut out the middle man when it comes to collecting fines for parking violations.

The chief is proposing the institution of a "parking violations bureau," which would allow the village, as opposed to the 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills, to collect fines for parking violations.

Right now, drivers ticketed for parking violations in the village are fined $65 for each offense, except for handicapped parking violations, which carry a $170 fine. Both are fixed amounts set by the court.

Whether a person wishes to pay or contest a ticket, they have to respond to the court within 14 days of its issuance.

If the fine is paid, the village receives only 33 percent of the fined amount; the court keeps the rest. So, on a $65 ticket, the village gets $21.45 from the court and on a $170 ticket, the municipality receives $56.10.

However, if the village collected its own fines, it could keep 100 percent of each parking ticket the police department issues.

Neymanowski stressed this is not meant to become a "cash cow" for the village. In fact, he indicated village officers, on average, issue about 20 to 25 parking tickets per month.

"It's not huge," he said. "I know Lake Orion does this and they make quite a bit of money on it, but I didn't want it way."

When asked if this proposal means the village police department plans to step up its parking enforcement efforts, Neymanowski indicated that will depend on the complaints the officers receive.

"I want to emphasize that I don't want my officers purposely going out and writing tickets just to (get) revenue," he said. "But if the violation's there and I've got a complaint, it makes economic sense to (handle) it internally."

If standard enforcement efforts create some extra revenue for the village, that's a good thing, in the chief's opinion.

"To be honest with you, we're doing this to bring some revenue into the village," he said. "We're always looking for extra things right now during these budget crises."

If the village ends up assessing and collecting its own parking fines, Neymanowski said they "would be substantially lower" than what the court currently charges.

Unlike the court, which only has the $65 and $170 amounts for parking tickets, the village could assess different fines for various violations such as parking longer than posted time limits or parking in loading zones.

For instance, instead of charging a $170 fine like the court does for an unauthorized vehicle parked in a handicapped space, the village could charge much less, according to the chief.

The chief said the biggest parking issue is motorists not obeying the posted time limits on certain downtown spaces.

"Some of the store owners were complaining to us," he said.

Neymanowski is currently working on a list of proposed parking fines.

Under the chief's proposal, violators would be given five days to pay the ticket.

However, if they wished to contest the ticket, they could still do so through the 52-3 District Court. In those cases, the court's ticket amounts would apply.

The village charter specifically allows for the creation of a parking violations bureau, however, Neymanowski must still get his proposal approved by council.

It's expected to go before council for discussion and possible action at the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25 meeting.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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