Cities are raising parking fines and collecting unpaid tickets to raise revenue, reports USA Today. The National League of Cities says 47% of the nation’s cities raised fees and fines last year. Revenue from these places rivals property taxes as a major source of municipal income. Every $1 spent issuing tickets or collecting fines reaps $5 in revenue, says New York’s Independent Budget Office. “Writing parking tickets is like printing money for cities,” says Glen Bolofsky, who founded www.parkingticket.com to help drivers contest tickets.
Chicago will issue about the same number of tickets – 3.5 million – as in each of the past five years. But the city should collect about $170 million this year, a 52 percent increase over the past two years. New York expects to collect $540 million this fiscal year from tickets, up from $414 million in 2003. New York effectively doubled its parking fines in 2002. San Francisco expects to collect $87 million this year in parking fines after it raised most fines last year for the first time in a decade. Other cities will go after scofflaws who owe unpaid tickets. Detroit is owed $30 million on 1.5 million unpaid parking tickets dating back five years. Birmingham, Ala., hopes its crackdown on unpaid parking fines will prevent the city from having to cut its budget. Last year, $1.4 million in fines went uncollected. Chicago now puts a boot on a car if three tickets are unpaid, rather than five. The city tracks violators when they change license plates.