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Kenmore has a fine idea Crackdown on parking scofflaws also generates revenue for village

Here's an idea for other municipalities to steal: create a system in which vehicles with three unpaid parking tickets get automatically towed, after first setting up an amnesty period.

And then watch the offenders – and money – roll in.

Ask Kenmore Police Chief Carl J. LaCorte, who reportedly received approximately 40 emails in six hours last week, indicating online payments of overdue parking fines from scofflaws trying to beat that day's deadline for payment.

Those overnight online payments totaled more than $1,000. "Walk ups" to the front window at Police Headquarters on that Thursday morning brought another $1,000. In all, well over $40,000 in fines had been paid.

The amnesty period ran from April 3 through midnight Thursday. Scofflaws were notified by letter, and, for the most part, that proved to be just the right wake-up call.

The 371-page list identifying approximately 12,000 vehicles with unpaid parking tickets got whittled down to the roughly 500 three-time offenders.

It adds up to the type of results other municipalities should envy and repeat.

The Village of Kenmore took the unpopular step of going after scofflaws in an aggressive manner. But given the enormity of the problem, who could blame village officials?

Kenmore is owed an estimated $500,000 in unpaid fines dating back to 2003. That's big money to small, medium or large municipalities, especially during these difficult fiscal times.

Notices get sent to three-time offenders, which should help avoid most misunderstandings. But human nature being what it is, there are sure to be some mistakes. In those cases, officials need a system in place to investigate and correct errors.

Folks who paid their fines during the amnesty period but are mistakenly caught by officers enforcing the new rule will luck out.

This new "three strikes and you're out" parking law should be easy for drivers to keep straight: Three tickets and your car is towed. If not, then the first towing should do the trick.

The consequences may seem harsh, but Kenmore isn't even going as far as the City of Buffalo, which is allowed by a 1992 state law to ask the state Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend a vehicles registration for nonpayment of fines.

Kenmore has a reputation for being a place where you don't want to speed. And now it will has a reputation for not cutting any slack to parking scofflaws.