The city is dusting off its boot in an attempt to step up efforts to get repeat parking offenders to pay their tickets.
City Manager Paul Hughes said those who have large outstanding fines for parking tickets could find a boot attached to their vehicle wheel, which won't be removed until the fines are paid off. Once attached to a wheel, the boot makes it impossible to move a vehicle.
"If you are on the list -- and you know who you are -- I suggest what you do is get down to the municipal clerk in city hall and try to clear up your record, otherwise you could be in for an unpleasant surprise," Hughes said.
During the past 3 1/2 years, the city has accumulated more than $71,000 in unpaid parking tickets, City Municipal Court Clerk Mary Hayes said. The average unpaid fines range from $300 to $600, but some vehicle owners have more than $1,000 in unpaid parking tickets, Hayes said.
Twenty to 30 vehicle owners account for $29,000 of the unpaid tickets, Hughes said.
The city is beginning a much more aggressive campaign to collect fines. That campaign includes using the boot and could extend to issuing warrants for people who haven't paid.
"We have been doing everything we could trying to make arrangements with people to get things cleared up," Hughes said. "They figured we would never get around to them. Well, we are about to get around to them."
The city purchased the boot a few years ago but has never used it. That's about to change and in fairness to the people who do park where they are supposed to, Hughes said.
The city has a parking-ticket system that keeps track of vehicle licenses plates and whether previous parking tickets have been issued to a given vehicle. If the parking monitor spots a vehicle that is illegally parked and determines it is a repeat offender, the boot could be used.
For vehicles that have been parked longer than the posted two-hour limit in certain parking spaces, the first offense is a warning, the second costs $10 and then the fine increases to $20, $40 and $80. Any fine after that remains at $80. Fines double if they are not paid within 14 days.
Hayes said the city sends out notices to those who don't pay their tickets. For those who have three or more unpaid tickets, an additional $20 is added to the fine.
Last winter, the city transportation department hired a parking liaison who acted as a parking enforcer and ambassador for the city. The job ended with the ski season but resumed this summer. Until last winter, the police department handled parking enforcement, but with a constant short staff, other more pressing issues had taken precedence over parking violations.