Iowa To Crack Down on Unpaid Parking Tickets
By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter
DUBUQUE, Iowa - Not paying your parking tickets will soon catch up with you where you might least expect it.
Like most states, Iowa is facing a tight budget.
It’s looking for every little bit to help avoid cuts.
So it’s going after people who owe the state money.
Iowa officials estimate the state has more than 558-million dollars in unpaid debt. That includes about 134-million dollars in unpaid traffic fines like parking tickets.
The city of Dubuque says it’s owed more than a quarter of a million dollars in unpaid parking tickets.
Now, tougher state laws are helping it and other cities and counties try to get that money back.
It’s only a quarter, or maybe even just a dime and a nickel. But not plugging a parking meters can really add up. In Dubuque a parking ticket is seven bucks a pop.
Kelly Faherty said, “oh yeah, I get tickets all the time. But I pay them off right away. ”
Starting Monday a new state law takes effect. If you don’t pay those pesky parking tickets, the city will notify the State Treasurer’s Office. You won’t be able to pay for your annual license registration until all parking tickets are paid off.
Dubuque Parking Division Manager Tim Horsfield said, “Then you have to go to city hall in Dubuque andy pay the tickets at city hall and then return to the treasure’s office with a paid in full receipt. ”
Faherty said, “to put a hold on people’s registration, I think that is kind of strong arming. ”
The city says whether it seems fair or not, it will save drivers money in the long run. The money the city collects from unpaid tickets will be used for much needed parking projects.
And that will keep the city from raising parking rates.
Horsfield said, “individually these tickets don’t mean much, but collectively it amounts to a substantial amount of money for us. ”
The city says one way to avoid getting a parking ticket is to park in the city’s new parking ramp on Central Avenue. It’s free to park in that ramp from now until December 1st.
Last month, Iowa started using a law firm to try to collect unpaid fees and fines.
In the past, it has also held tax refunds for people with outstanding court debt.
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