As revenues decline,
25 new officers prepare
to hit the city's streets
District parking ticket revenues are on pace to run about $20 million short of last fiscal year as more people contest their tickets in person or refuse to pay up.
But more than two dozen new parking enforcement officers are about to begin job training, so stricter enforcement is on the way.
Last year, D.C. budgeted $3.5 million to hire new parking enforcement officers, a move that was expected to bring in $16.7 million in additional ticket revenue. Twenty-five new hires will begin their training on March 29, said Bill Howland, director of the Department of Public Works.
"Summer is our peak season for issuing tickets," Howland said. "We're hoping to have some of these folks ready so they can issue more tickets."
D.C. took in $70 million in parking ticket revenue in fiscal 2009 but will generate less than $45 million this year if current trends continue, according to data provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles to the D.C. Council's public works committee.
"We know that more people are not paying their tickets and that is causing a decline in revenue, probably directly related to the economy," Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham, chairman of that committee, told The Examiner on Monday. "What we don't have is a firm number as yet, but it's in the millions of dollars. It's a lot of money. It's a another hole that's going to be very difficult to plug."
The value of parking tickets issued between October and January, but were not paid, totaled $18 million. That's half of what the District didn't collect in all of fiscal 2009.
At the same time, the District took in $14.5 million in parking ticket fines during the first four months of this year. In fiscal 2009, collections totaled $70.7 million.
Millions in lost ticket revenue would compound D.C.'s already colossal budget troubles. District revenues are running $225 million short in fiscal 2010.
The number of parking tickets issued this year is equivalent to that of previous years but people are less inclined to pay their fines, DMV Director Lucinda Babers said during a recent oversight hearing.
"Fewer people are paying, bottom line," Babers said.
The percentage of people contesting their tickets in person also has risen dramatically, possibly an indicator of economic distress. Seventy percent of people appealing their citations have done so in person this year, up from 49 percent in 2008.
"When you can't pay, you're more likely to come and adjudicate, if only to throw yourself at the mercy of the hearing examiner," Babers said.
Staff Writer Michael Neibauer
contributed to this report.
Fiscal 2008 FY2009 FY2010 (Projected)
Number of parking tickets issued 1.7 million 1.8 mil. *1.8 mil.
Value of parking tickets paid $67 million $70 mil. *$43.5 mil.
Percentage of citations
contested in person 49 53 **70
* - Projected
** - Year-to-date