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Common Council increases parking violation fines

Violating Buffalo’s parking laws is about to get more expensive.

The Common Council Tuesday approved the Brown administration’s request to increase parking violation fines by $5 or $10.

So before taking a chance parking on the street without putting money in the meter, consider this:

The fine for doing that, previously $30, will now be $40.

What about parking in a prohibited zone?

Old fine: $35. New one: $40.

Or parking in a handicapped zone when you aren’t handicapped?

Old fine of $70 will increase to $80.

The penalties for late payments also will increase by an extra $10 in most cases.

Currently, there’s a $55 penalty if a $30 fine isn’t paid within eight days. That penalty will go up to $65.

The increases are the first in 15 years, and are expected to bring an additional $1 million annually to city coffers, said Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer.

But, Helfer added, the increases aren’t driven by money. They are part of strategy to discourage motorists from remaining beyond the maximum stated time at parking meters.

Mayor Byron W. Brown has previously said the intent is “to turn traffic over, and circulate in and out of our neighborhoods.”

The higher fines are being approved at the same time the city is upgrading its parking meter system, with plans to allow payments with smart phones to begin in September, Helfer said.

Already, the city has installed 120 new “pay and display” meters around the city.

And Tuesday, in addition to approving the new fees, the Council also authorized Helfer’s department to enter into contracts for new handheld ticket-writing machines and pay-by-cell application.

The pay-by-cell will allow motorists to download a free parking application on their smartphone, connect it to a credit card, and pay the meter before leaving their car.

Motorists will pay a 10-cent surcharge for using pay-by-cell, Helfer said.

The smartphone feature will be in addition, not instead of, more standard meters, Helfer said.

The city will have parking meters or pay and display machines at all of its on-street pay-to-park spots.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com

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