AP NEWS

Reps ramp up parking, tire-booting fines

January 9, 2019

STAMFORD - Mold cleanup in schools. Repairing school buildings to prevent further infestation. An unexpected charge to haul away recyclables. Covering long-ignored retirement costs for city employees. A new school on Strawberry Hill. A new police headquarters. A need for technology upgrades in City Hall.

It’s a partial list of the expenses Mayor David Martin is looking to meet with the help of fee and fine increases he has proposed to the Board of Representatives, which has been debating them for weeks.

Some fees and fines have not been changed in years, the mayor’s office has said, and in some cases Stamford falls short of what comparable communities charge.

During Monday night’s board meeting, city lawmakers passed a number of Martin’s proposed fee hikes, and voted to schedule public hearings for several more.

Word to the wise: If you get a parking ticket, pay it promptly.

To date, you’ve had 30 days to pay parking fines. Now it will be 15 days.

Now, if you fail to meet the deadline, the penalty will double, and if you fail to pay the doubled amount within 30 days, the penalty will triple.

The fees will add up fast - a Class I parking violation, such as overstaying a meter, comes with a $25 fine. So if you don’t pay within 15 days, you’ll owe $50. If you don’t pay that amount within 30 days, you’ll owe $75.

It’s worse for more serious parking violations.

A Class II violation, such as obstructing a driveway or parking in a space where a sign prohibits it, costs $50. A Class III violation, such as parking in a fire lane or against the flow of traffic, gets you an $80 ticket. And a Class IV violation, such as parking within 10 feet of a fire hydrant or on a snow emergency route during a storm, is $120.

So, under the new law, if you get a $120 ticket and fail to pay it within 15 days, you’ll owe $240. If you fail to pay the $240 within 30 days, you’ll owe $360.

Your wallet will really take a hit if you ignore parking tickets altogether.

City representatives Monday passed another law that says if you owe $250 or more in parking fines, or three or more unpaid tickets, you can be towed or booted.

Then you will have to pay not only the ticket and late penalties, but the city’s cost for towing or booting you, and the cost of storing your vehicle.

If you are booted with a self-releasing electronic device, you will have to pay what the booting company charges the city, $200, plus a $50 administrative fee.

If you don’t return the device to the Stamford Government Center within 24 hours, you will be charged $25. If you fail to return the device within 48 hours, or if you return it damaged, you will be charged $500.

If your car is booted and you don’t pay up within 24 hours, the city can tow your car.

The new law takes effect as soon as Martin signs it, which should be within a few days.

Three other fee increases passed Monday affect owners of day-care centers, and hairdressing, barber and cosmetology shops.

State law requires that municipal health departments inspect child day-care centers annually, and review plans for new centers before they are licensed.

The city so far has not charged for inspections or reviews. But day-care center owners that serve seven to 12 children now will have to pay $125 per inspection, and those who serve 13 or more children must pay $200.

A plan review to license a new center will cost $125.

Owners of barber, hairdressing and cosmetology shops who move or remodel have been charged nothing for a Health Department plan review or inspection. Now they will be charged $100.

In proposing the charge, Health Department officials said the inspections and reviews are time consuming, and surrounding municipalities already charge for them.

Next week the board will set dates for public hearings on a number of other proposed fees.

They include new or increased charges for building permits; rounds of golf at municipal courses; use of city ballfields; dumping at the transfer station; and a number of Health Department services such as plan reviews for rooming houses, apartment complexes, hotels, assisted-living centers, pools, septic systems and wells.

A date also will be set for a public hearing on an amendment to the new ban on plastic bags, passed in October. The ban requires that Stamford residents bring reusable tote bags to supermarkets, delis, home-improvement stores, drug stores and other retail establishments. Anyone without a tote bag will be charged 10 cents for each paper bag they need. The ban takes effect in May.

The amendment exempts those who rely on food-assistance programs from the paper-bag charge. Representatives Monday removed recipients of other types of government programs from the exemption.

acarella@stamfordadvocate.com; 203-964-2296.