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Watch where you park: Ticket fines, penalties go up

Parking illegally in Buffalo will cost you a bigger chunk of change, as of today.

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

But the city wanted to use up its old tickets, with the lower fines, before implementing the higher ones, according to Kevin Helfer, the city's parking commissioner.

The old tickets are now used up. The higher fees are now in effect.

So getting caught parking in front of an expired meter, previously $30, is now $40.

Parking in a prohibited zone, previously $35, is now a $40 fine.

Illegally parking in a handicapped zone, previously $70, is now $80.

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

What had been a $55 penalty if a $30 fine isn't paid within eight days is now a $65 penalty.

The increases are the first in 15 years and are expected to bring in an additional $1 million annually, according to Helfer.

But the commissioner also has said the increases aren't driven by money. They are part of a strategy to discourage motorists from remaining beyond the maximum stated time at parking meters, he said.

Helfer also said that the city is progressing with its plans to upgrade its parking meter meter system, and hopes to allow payment with smartphones to begin in the spring.

The pay-by-cell will allow motorists to download a free parking application on their smartphones, 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.

The feature will be in addition to, not instead of, standard meters, Helfer has said.

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

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