The City of Erie has a big budget deficit to overcome before the new year begins. Mayor Joe Schember has introduced a plan to balance the next city budget.

 

One of the most shocking elements of the mayor's budget proposal is that the city is owed $3.2 million in overdue parking fines.  Erie News Now wanted to know how that figure grew so large, and what the city plans to do to finally collect that money.

 

We found that an "old school" approach to collecting parking fines is being replaced.

 

Erie Police have a lengthy printout that lists the names of people whose parking tickets have grown so numerous that they qualify to have a steel boot attached to their vehicle so it cannot be driven.  Over the years, the list has grown to 325 pages with at least ten names on each page. For Erie Police, applying the boot has been the most effective way to force people to pay their overdue parking fines.
     

With the city currently in a budget mess, Mayor Schember and Erie Police are hoping to ramp up efforts to collect the over $3 million the city of owed. The one officer that has the “old school” responsibility to find the vehicles on the list will now get some manpower help to hunt them down.
    

New technology will also help.  License plate readers are now available that quickly scans plates and alerts the officers if that vehicle has overdue tickets.

 

"The police department received a device that we're going to be using in order to locate these plates ourselves. The details are being worked out right now.  We hope to make a public announcement soon,” says Police Chief Dan Spizarny.

 

Schember is bringing in even more help.

 

"We're looking at this Philadelphia company that specializes in collecting delinquent parking tickets for cities.  They would be paid a fee.  We're hoping we can bring in several hundred thousand dollars by employing them now and helping with the budget,” he said.

 

The mayor says an amnesty program may be enacted that would eliminate late fees if the rest of the fine is paid.