Parking ticket delinquents in Kent will be given a second chance after City Council approved a new parking ticket amnesty program in a committee meeting last Wednesday.
Under the new proposal, drivers with outstanding parking tickets in Kent will be given a 30-day grace period to pay their ticket at the original fine, without the accelerated fees that have been accessed for late payment. If the tickets are still unpaid after those 30 days, the late fees will then be reinstated and the registered owner of the vehicle will be responsible for the full amount.
According to estimates by Public Safety Director Bill Lillich, Kent has an excess of 4,500 outstanding tickets that are older than six months from the date of issuance. The Kent Police Department has changed over to a new software management system and wants to “clear out as many [parking tickets] as possible,” Lillich said.
Police Chief Michelle Lee said unpaid parking tickets have been a problem in Kent for years, a transient college town with a lot of visiting drivers. The new amnesty program would help free up the police department’s new system, which has been inundated with records of outstanding parking tickets.
“I would be happy to get 40 to 50 percent of tickets cleared up,” Lee said. “That may be unrealistic, though, because there a lot of tickets out there that are very dated. And most of the tickets are just one-ticket [offenders], so they come to town, they know they’re never coming back and they just don’t pay them.”
Lee said tracking down drivers with outstanding parking tickets is not a high priority for the police department. Lee said after about five years unpaid tickets are forgiven and wiped from the records.
“It’s really kind of on your honor system,” Lee said. “It would cost a lot more money and a lot more effort just to go after each individual parking ticket – more time and effort than we have.”
The Kent Police Department does not put out a warrant for those with unpaid parking tickets, and delinquents’ names are not turned over to a credit bureau.
“For one ticket, nothing is really going to happen,” Lee said. “But for multiple tickets, you could get your vehicle towed — if we catch you. Now we’re not going to go out to Hudson or another agency, another state and tow a vehicle.”
Kent is following the lead of other communities that have implemented a similar amnesty program for parking tickets. Lillich and Lee believe the amnesty program could generate a return of up to $90,000 out of the current face value of $244,000 in unpaid fines.
Drivers can now pay their Kent parking tickets online at www.citeserv.com/kent. People can also call the police department to check the status of a ticket.
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