Bellingham increases fine for expired parking meters up to $15

The cost for parking at an expired meter in Bellingham will soon be $15 instead of $10,
The cost for parking at an expired meter in Bellingham will soon be $15 instead of $10, THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

The cost for parking at an expired meter will soon be $15 instead of $10, following a City Council decision to update parking rules.

City staff had hoped to double the meter fines to $20, to cover more of the cost of enforcement, but council members moved to raise the fine by only $5 during a meeting early Monday, Oct. 27. With the exception of Gene Knutson, who was absent, the full council voted for the $5 change and other updates to city parking rules during its regular meeting Monday night.

Other parking fines were raised from $20 to $30.

So far this year, the city has doled out nearly 24,000 parking tickets. About 61 percent of those were for meter violations.

As of Sept. 30, parking fines had brought in $424,257, but the cost of handing out tickets and collecting on them was $595,757, according to a presentation city staff gave to council on Monday.

That puts the average cost per ticket at $24.91, while the revenue per ticket averaged $17.74. Data presented to council in September had estimated the cost per ticket was about $19.69.

The city currently subsidizes the difference with cash from the parking fund, according to city documents.

Council also approved extending the street parking time limit in some areas from 24 hours to 72 hours.

Staff members also had suggested changing city policy for towing vehicles with four or more unpaid tickets, but by Monday had decided to take a closer look at enforcement options before asking council to take a vote. They could bring that portion of city rules back up for debate in coming months.