Bangor saw a 40 percent uptick in the number of parking tickets issued in the first year after it adopted a more advanced system for enforcing traffic violations around downtown.
But city officials say that the goal of the new system, which uses a vehicle mounted with cameras to snap photos of license plates and issue parking tickets, was not to bring in more revenue. Rather, they hope that it will eventually drive down the number of parking tickets the city issues by encouraging more people who live or work downtown to use off-street parking spots rather than leaving their cars in timed spaces along the street.
The city issued 7,514 parking citations from October 2017 to September 2018, which was the last 12-month period in which the city was still responsible for patrolling downtown parking, according to municipal data. Those tickets brought the city $91,658 in revenue.
After the city adopted the new technology in October 2018, it issued 10,512 citations and brought in $107,467 in revenue over the next 12 months.
However, it’s hard to get an exact idea of how parking enforcement has changed around Bangor under the new system, in part because the numbers also reflect tickets that were issued outside the downtown, where the city continues to do traffic enforcement. The city also was not immediately able to provide the total number of tickets issued in earlier years.
The city pays Republic Parking, the Tennessee-based contractor that runs the city’s municipal parking lots and garages, an annual fee of $12,000 for the new parking enforcement service. That’s on top of the $35,760 the city pays Republic for its other services.
Before that new system was adopted in October 2018, the city previously handled downtown parking enforcement by sending enforcement officers around on foot to chalk car tires, but drivers had an easier time taking advantage of the system, according to Community and Economic Development Officer Tyler Collins.
Bangor adopted the new system to improve the efficiency of its enforcement and to try to cut down on drivers who got around the time limits on street-side parking spaces by shuffling their cars between different spaces, Collins said.
“We noticed a lot of abuse when the enforcement method was to walk around chalking tires — the chalk would be wiped off or folks would” watch out for officers and “move a car to avoid the ticket,” Collins said. The new system “is a step in the right direction to ensure those time spaces downtown are turning over. [It] allows for more data collection and reporting.”
Drivers continued to shuffle their cars around even under the new system, according to an annual report from Republic Parking that will be presented to a committee of the Bangor City Council on Tuesday. The company is also recommending increases in the rates for monthly passes in some of the city’s parking lots, including the Pickering Square garage.
But the city did see an increase in the sales of parking permits over the last year, which could be a sign that the new system is starting to have its intended effect, Collins said.
The average price of a ticket actually fell from $12.81 to $10.22 between those two 12-month periods. Collins said that may be because the city issued more citations for on-street parking, which results in lower fines than for illegal parking in handicap spaces or permitted parking lots.
The system now requires one full-time worker and one-part time worker to do the same work that used to require about three municipal workers, Collins said.