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Decline in traffic-ticket revenue puts Salt Lake City in a budget bind

Published November 14, 2012 12:09 pm

City Council • Officials hope parking revenueswill increase.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Parking revenues and traffic citations are down, and that could put a hole in Salt Lake City's budget.

Revenue trends for the first three months of the current budget year that began July 1 are off. If the trends continue, an estimated $2.2 million shortfall will result. The 2012-13 budget outlines $205.8 million in expenditures.

The culprits were lower revenue than expected from parking meters and parking tickets, as well as fewer traffic tickets and lower fines on citations issued.

Although parking tickets in Salt Lake City have increased an average of 2,000 per month, dismissals of those citations have increased by 200 percent ­— about 250 tickets a month, according to a report presented Tuesday to the City Council.

"The number of [parking] tickets has increased, while the number of ticket dismissals has increased at a much faster rate," the report states. "Some dismissals may be associated with implementation challenges with the new parking pay station system ..."

Beyond that, revenue from parking pay stations was off $225,000 compared to budget estimates.

In Mayor Ralph Becker's budget, an increase in curbside parking rates from $1.50 to $2 an hour coupled with increasing paid parking from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, was projected to bring in $980,000. (Parking is free on Saturday for two hours only.)

But according to David Everitt, Becker's chief of staff, only recently has the city begun to enforce paid parking after 6 p.m. because signs throughout downtown had to be changed. That extended enforcement will bring more revenue, he said.

Extra revenue also will be gained over past years, Ever-itt said, because free curbside parking will be eliminated during the Christmas shopping season.

The number of traffic citations also was lower than expected, according to the report. And the fines on the citations that were issued also were reduced, due to such things as community service in lieu of fines. The public's use of the city's traffic school, which requires a fee, also has decreased dramatically, according to the report.

Council Chairman Soren Simonsen said the loss can be made up in part by a $400,000 surplus from the last budget year. He also noted that sales tax revenues are trending upward.

"But in the end, if we don't have enough revenue, we may have to revisit the budget and make cuts," he said. —

Parking information

O Find curbside and paid parking lot locations and rates. > http://www.parkingslc.com