By: Andy McKeever On: 10:21PM / Tuesday August 23, 2011
The city councilors passed a study about parking performed by resident Mark Trottier onto the Finance Committee to explore additional revenues.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city will analyze its use of parking meters after resident Mark Trottier did a micro-study of possible ticket revenues.
Trottier walked the city's downtown area for an hour and a half nearly every day for the month of July counting parking violations. He found 3,017 violations that were not ticketed, which he said translated to an additional $22,025 for the city.
While conceding that the study was on a micro-level, Trottier explained that it can be used as a way for the city to re-think its revenue sources.
Mark Trottier walked downtown nearly every day in July and noted all illegally parked cars that were not ticketed.
"I believe I have presented enough evidence to warrant an independent commission to be made up of three to five citizens appointed by this council and the mayor to look into not only this issue but all issues regarding fees, fines, permits and charges," Trottier said. "If you have the laws on the books then you must enforce them. If you don't enforce them, then you are losing money for the city. I only did this to show that there is lost revenue."
The city Councilors referred the study to Mayor Richard Alcombright's office to gather additional numbers — which will be forwarded to the Finance Committee. And for the councilors, it will give them a chance to reflect on how they envision downtown.
"I'd hate to have a revenue for the city be the people shopping downtown," said Councilor Keith Bona, who opened by stating his opposition to parking meters altogether because of negative effects on business. Bona operates a business on Main Street. "If anything, I'd like to see the opposite. I prefer it to be more welcoming."
City Councilor Lisa Blackmer said ticketing could discourage patrons from coming downtown and that those revenues Trottier found would disappear because residents will start parking in the free parking lots.
"They would feed the meters, they would move their cars or they wouldn't come downtown. While we might have lost it in the short term, it's not money we'd gain in the long term," Blackmer said.
The ends of the spectrum are getting rid of the parking meters — eliminating the need for a parking clerk — or hiring additional patrols in an attempt to generate revenue.
Trottier said the job would require a full-time officer dedicated only to parking as well as at least one part-time officer to cover the hours needed. The current parking clerk is working additional jobs with the Police Department, he said.
The council also set the preliminary city election for mayor for Tuesday, Sept. 27. Alcombright, Ronald Boucher and Robert Martelle are all eyeing the corner office and the election will narrow the field to two. Wards 1,2,3 and 5 will vote at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center and Ward 4 will vote at Greylock School. The polls will be open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Councilor Marie Harpin proposed opening the polls up at 7 a.m. instead to accommodate early-morning voters but was out-voted by the rest of the council. The other councilors questioned the worthiness of paying the election workers for those extra two hours, which have typically been slow during the state and national elections.
James Canavan was appointed to the North Adams Housing Authority to fill the unexpired term of Jennifer Breen-Kirsch, who recently stepped down. Canavan's term will expire in 2014.
"Jim has a strong background in public housing, management, finance and nonprofit organizations. He will bring significant expertise to this very important position," Alcombright said.
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He is right about lax inforcement of traffic laws.And Mr. Bona has a lot of nerve to expect us to lose revenue on parking and more than likely pass it on to home owners with yet more increases. He has a vested interest and if he wants more customers to his shop try another method instead of looking to cut revenue from one source and make it up from another.
I would like to thank Mark for doing what the mayor and city council could not do. This just shows that no one is in charge. If the city was smart they would hire Mark to find more. After all it only took him less than 30 days to find $22000 a month in lost revenue. Shame on the mayor and city council.
I remember this man being what was once know as the meter mechanic. He has been doing this job for many years and is a nice guy. I talked to him once and was shocked at what he told me. It seems that the city does not count the coins before making the deposit and instead trusts the bank to do the job. I would assume that all is on the up and up but it doesn't sound kosher to me.
Editor: That is not unusual for large coin deposits. Banks have machines that can do it minutes. The alternative is to pay someone in City Hall to do it. I Agree (16) - I Disagree (1)
Great job Mark. And shame on Blackmer for disputing the figures the way she did. Very rude! She has lost my vote. Laws are made to be enforced, or get rid of the laws. Ya think that revenue could have made a differnece in the deficit the city faced...I think so.
Editor: It's rather a circular argument. If a someone is downtown regularly giving out tickets, people will be more likely to put dimes in the meter. That $20,000 will therefore no longer exist. So, you will make money on the meters but you won't make as much on tickets. I Agree (14) - I Disagree (1)
Instead of focusing on parking enforcement money, which really only serves to deter people from shopping downtown (hey, Walmart has free parking!) the city should be doing a study of how much tax money is not paid by homeowners and businesses who don't pay their property taxes. Those numbers will astound you, and most of those people just realize the city doesn't want their properties, so they just keep not paying. Sure, the city puts an instrument of taking on the property, but they almost never take the property. The excuses given are that Land Court takes too long and "we don't want the property anyway because we can't sell it." Well, take a dozen or so properties and see how fast the rest pay up their taxes. For a certain Mr. Ransford alone we're talking over $100,000 in back taxes owed. The council and Mayor talk a good game about needing to bring in revenue, and then turn their backs on those who don't pay taxes while those of us who do subsidize services for the tax scofflaws.
Those who have no idea about the costs of hiring people (OT for veterans versus regular pay for rookie cops) should really take a math class before they shoot off their mouths about who the city should or shouldn't hire. The fact that the meter maid is pulling other duties is due to the fact that police force is understaffed because the city is broke.
Mark is a decent guy. I am sure he is well meaning, but he is also very active in the Boucher campaign. Everything he says in the next couple of months will be viewed in that light.
Bona does have a vested interested in downtown as every other business owner does. As every city resident should. I am sure a part of his rent pays the taxes on the building. Businesses pay property tax on inventory and taxes for employees, food fees and certificate fees. We blame politicians and property owners when downtown is empty and now we want to push tickets on shoppers. Idiotic. Is it worth ticketing patrons who are trying to support thier local economy for being a few minutes late on the meter. The city shouldn't be fining people who are helping the community. I full downtown will bring in more revenue than meters. Too bad Trottier didn't focus his efforts on real criminals like littering, drug dealers, and vandals.
fake wayne RealWayne would love to give out parking tickets to keep taxes down. I am sure get a lot of volunteers to help out.
Just a thought about being understaffed. If you ride around town you will see a lot of police directing traffic. ??
Mayor Alcombright has been going after property owners with past due tax bills. He hired a collection agency to handle that. They've been collecting on decade old bills. Great idea. It's being done. Now that you know, will you give credit to where credit is due?
Cardimino opposed the prop 2 1/2 overide. As expected he's the first to complain the lawns at the cemetery are getting long. Duh. Less money, less staff, less hours working. This is what happens when the city makes cuts. Get use to it. It's what you voted for.
You are off point, this was and is only a independent study by a citizen regarding lost revenue,the violations speaks for it's self, if the job isn't being done correctly then,, and its time for the councilor and the mayor to correct the prouble, don't tell the tax payer your broke, and this. has nothing to do with anyones campaign.
Sorry, Getrdone, but it is NOT getting done. I know this because I do know the Mayor, and he told me flat out that the city doesn't want the properties. The town hoarder, and many of you know who I'm talking about, owns five properties - three dilapidated homes and two pieces of land - all filled with junk, including rusted out vehicles and crap he picks up off the street and from dumpsters. He has not paid taxes for the past three years on ANY of his properties. The city has placed instruments of taking on all, but because the nutjob is suing the city in a completely frivolous suit, they refuse to go ahead with the takings and even refuse to allow the building inspector to go after him for his illegal junkyards. Show me the properties they've taken, show me the money they've brought in - because one search of Mass Land Records says otherwise. And it's not just Alcombright - Barrett didn't go after them, either.
Publish the names of every tax scofflaw in the Transcript, and I guarantee you a lot of them suddenly find some money to pay taxes. I am sick and tired of paying my own taxes while clowns like the town hoarder laugh at the city.
Editor: Publishing names is a much better idea but there are some who will still not pay. It's cheaper for them to walk away leaving the dumps for the city to clean up. I Agree (5) - I Disagree (1)
I agree editor, some will never pay, but is that a reason to not go after these people? If even half pay up, it's a lot of money. A lot more than any parking enforcement can bring in. If we don't do a real active enforcement of tax deadbeats, how can we even be asked to support something like a debt exclusion or further tax increases? My initial comment was not meant as an attack on the current Mayor, and I think it's sad that some immediately jump to an us versus them mentality. No matter who is the Mayor, if you don't pay your taxes, you should not own the property. Our rates, as we all know, are pretty low, and there is no excuse to let tax scofflaws get away without paying. I say take ALL of Ransford's properties - see how fast he comes up with that money he has hidden somewhere in the Caribbean.
The only way to "go after" the back taxes is through a lien, which if never lifted, will allow the city to take the house. Unlike the IRS, the city cannot march into court and demand a check before the property is taken.
RealWayne - If you are ready to volunteer, why aren't you?
Mark - It's great to say the job is not getting done, but "the job" takes man-hours to do. There are no spare man hours. If I am not mistaken, the state and contract mandate certain levels of officer coverage. If you can only afford to pay for the bare minimum "to live within our means" you have to give some things up. If someone does it on overtime the numbers don't look so good.
For those who do not understand that businesses in North Adams already pay twice the property tax as homeowners because of the widening split of the rates over the past 30 years, you should really stop and think about why businesses do not choose North Adams.
We should sell the parking meter rights to a private company. The city would get a small check and the company would make sure none of you parked for free, ever.
The parking Officer job is on the street, checking the meters, not in the police dept dispatching,and other things, this job is being paid from the parking dept funding, its not a bare minimum job, she should be-able to work 40 hours out of the 56 hrs. that the meters are in use, maybe its time to sell off to a company and just take a small check each month, but till then someone should be doing this job that the taxpayers are paying for.
Penny Wise and Pound Foolish. If you want more tax revenue, create an environment where good, tax paying families would want to live and work. Petty bickering over parking meters is not going to make that happen. All that mental energy should be put to a more productive use. Go start a business, hire people, do something productive with your life. The month spent walking the streets looking for expired meters could have been used volunteering to do a job that would improve the community. It's called being a responsible citizen, look into it.
Mark - So, you are saying we need to spend money to make money.
That doesn't sound like "living within one's means."
I don't doubt that you are sincere, but your numbers are fantasy.
6 weeks = 54 days.
55.87 tickets per 90 minute walk
1.61 tickets a minute
But only if you walked every single day.
Since you seem to know a lot about the Traffic and Parking Department, how many meters do they have? How many have cars parked during that magical 90 minute stretch of time?
Simple observation tells me that at any point in time, no more than 10 or 15 cars are parked on Main St. Maybe there are 5 up by the library. And possibly there are 8 on Ashland St. Maybe 8 in St. Anthony's. 12 on Eagle St. 5 on Ashland. A few by the Holiday Inn.
By my best guess (and it is a guess) there are no more than 45 or 50 cars parked at meters at any one time on a typical day.
Are you counting the all the cars in the lot behind Hoosac Bank?
Where do you find 56 different cars in violation in 90 minutes?
What you say makes no sense to me, hence I have to question your revenue figures. I'll wander downtown myself and see of I can even come close to replicating your results.
A $4 sale in a store makes the same in taxes as a 1 hour meter. Wouldn't it be better to make our income from sales instead of making good customers feel like criminals for staying downtown longer than the meter allows?
How about the city doing away with all the meters. Fire the parking officer and the part time meter fixer. The city would save over $ 50000 a year ???
After this I hope the city does not say that they do not have money for a new school and ask for another OVERRIDE. If the councilors laugh about losing $22000 a month I guess we must have plenty of money.
How about a new fee for stores that get the sidewalk and parking spaces cleaned by the city. Please do not tell me they pay taxes, Wal mart pays taxes and the city does not clean the parking lot for them.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Bona is thinking more about the effect meter enforcement would have on his BUSINESS rather than his CITY.
It is also unfortunate that Ms. Blackmer talks at all. I'm positive she has absolutely no data to back up whatever assertions she makes. Her predictions of what will happen if changes are made come straight from a magic 8-ball rather than from any actual informed study of the issue. It's a shame.
The city needs to decide if it wants to enforce parking laws or not. If it's not going to ticket people who don't pay the meters to park, then get rid of the meters. If it's going to keep the meters, then ticket people who don't pay. What does this say to people who pay for parking each day? Are we fools to put our money in the meters when those who don't want to bother get away with not paying? Non enforcement makes no sense.
i would just like to know how many drug dealers,vandals, and litter bugs FRITZ has caught. isn't this the police departments job to focus on these crimes. or are you trying to say there lacking in there dutys to
Wow: Don't buy into all the media hype. If you watch TV, read the papers/magazines/web sites, then it's easy to fall into the trap that everyone is miserable. I think a lot of people are doing just fine, but it's not a very interesting story to read in the paper: "Local Man Goes To Work Five Days A Week". Or "Family Makes Mortgage Payments" or "Bernice and Elmer Save Up Some Money, Go To The Grand Canyon". Yes, there is unemployment and uncertainty but don't believe that's all there is.
It sounds like the city should hire an independent company to do a time and job study for every job in the city . How many other jobs are not being done or done correctly. Please note the key word INDEPENDENT. Lets really be TRANSPARRENT. Just something to think about .
Budget Think about it. An average tax payer found $22000 a month in revenue. Only working 1 1/2 hrs a day. Just think what a professional would find. It is painfully obvious that the mayor and finance comity either have no idea or have the corrage to do what is needed for the tax payers of the city. So it looks like no matter how much it would cost for the study the city would get it back and much more. So please no more talk about an override for new schools. The money is in the parking meters .
Just something to think about.
I agree, most of the cars in St. Anthony buy permits to park and don't have to put money in the meters. Since the news broke the most i've counted were 13 vehicles parked on Main St at a time.
Check your math. If you multiply $5 per ticket it doesn't come out to $22,000 dollars. Good try!!!
I'M SURE EVERYONE IS HAS GOOD INTENTIONS. HOWEVER HAVING OWNED A STORE. EVERY TIME THERE WAS FREE PARKING, EMPLOYEES OF STORES DOWN THE STREET AND REAL ESTATE AGENTS, TENANTS ETC WOULD PARK IN FRONT OF MY STORE. BIG HELP FOR CUSTOMERS HA HA. KEEP THE METERS.
Parking Laws are one thing....How about all of the Out Of State Plats that are around town???I know of one guy who has lived in this town 10 years and has 2 vehicle both with New York tags on them..and this is one of more then a dozen..All of that tax reveneue down the drain...
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.