Council eyes parking fine hike

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2003

A resolution to increase parking fines was tabled Monday night at the Austin City Council meeting.

The resolution would raise fines from $5 to $10 for an overtime parking ticket. Late notices would go from $10 to $15, and complaints would increase from $15 to $20.

The increases are aimed at offsetting a state surcharge of $3 per ticket that the city must pay as of July 1.

Email newsletter signup

However, council members were looking at the increase in another context after Mike Robbins of Robbins Furniture spoke about the parking problems downtown.

One of the solutions he offered was raising fines even higher to act as a greater deterrent to offenders. He said business owners at a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting suggested an increase to $25.

The issue was tabled for further consideration at a work session.

Robbins' complaint was about the lack of available parking spots outside of his and other businesses downtown. He said people leave their cars in parking stalls all day, taking spots from customers and others coming on business to the establishments. His main complaint was with county employees at the nearby courthouse.

Besides the fee increase, solutions offered include hiring a minimum-wage employee to replace Austin's recently retired parking enforcement attendant and designating stalls to particular businesses, although City Attorney David Hoversten said that is not legal.

Robbins said solving the problem is crucial to growth downtown.

"If there's no place for customers to come down and park next to a business, it just isn't going to happen," he said.

Mayor Bonnie Rietz agreed to address the issue of county employees taking spots at the next city/county meeting.

In other council news:

n An ordinance was 6-0 passed allowing organized hunts within the J.C. Hormel Nature Center to control animal populations. A bow hunt is scheduled for Nov. 19-26. Future hunts will still have to be approved by the council. Councilman Tracey Chamberlain was absent.

n The final assessment for the Norman Park water and sewer upgrade was approved. All of the costs for infrastructure will be assessed to residents. If two lots are owned by one person, the costs for the second lot can be deferred without interest for five years.

n Pastor Pat Toschak at First United Methodist Church and Alma Cotter, program assistant interpreter at the Austin Welcome Center, were appointed to fill vacancies in the library board.

n A hearing to change the comprehensive plan to accommodate an apartment complex on the site of the former Burr Oak Manor was set for the July 21 meeting. Councilwoman Mickey Jorgenson will be absent at that meeting, but she asked the other members to reconsider their votes concerning the complex, which would be built by Kevin Schammel of Austin.

Jorgenson and Lynn Koch are opposed to the complex, but the rest of the council has voted in favor of it in the past.

She said opinions of residents should matter most, and she told members in the future, in a similar circumstance outside of her ward, she will "listen to that vast majority from your neighborhood."

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at