Champaign council considers changes to parking fines

CHAMPAIGN -- The price of a parking ticket in Champaign has not changed since 2007, but at Tuesday's city council meeting, public works officials proposed a new pay-scale for meter violations and a new way to avoid them altogether.

Getting a parking ticket for the first time you forget to feel the meter could soon be a thing of the past.

"If there is nothing outstanding on that person's account and they haven't received any other violation, they won't get a violation," said Kris Koester, spokesperson for Champaign's Public Works Department. "They'll just get a warning ticket."

But additional offenses would cost you more than the current $10 flat fee.

"After the first warning ticket, then it will be a $15 violation," said Koester.

And increase with each subsequent violation, up to $35 for the fifth offense.

"We don't want cars sitting in the same spots all night long," said Champaign Mayor, Don Gerard. "What we want is turnover, or we want people to use the garage or we want people to be more prudent about where they park, or that they use the technology so that they remain compliant."

And public works officials say there's an app for that: pay-by-cell.

"We actually timed a test we did and it took about 24 seconds, from the time we parked got out of the car, entered our space number, said how long we wanted to pay, and confirm our parking," said Koester.

"Pay-by-cell is just a no brainer in the 21st century," said Gerard. "I think that's an outstanding opportunity to better serve the people coming downtown."

Which is why the city council unanimously approved the proposal to move forward with a search for an app that let's you feed your meter from your phone. As for the changes to parking meter violations, an ordinance will be put on the council's regular agenda by September 2014.
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