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City Questions Parking Ticket Revenue
By: Andy McKeever On: 10:21PM / Tuesday August 23, 2011
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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.

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