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Parking grace period extension

Madison parking enforcement officer Jason Temby tickets a car parked illegally on Prospect Place in 2018.  

A proposal that would increase grace periods for paying parking ticket fines gained support from Madison’s Finance Committee Monday.

Currently, parking violators have an initial grace period of 10 days to pay the ticket fee before an additional $10 administration fee is tacked on. After 21 days, violators currently receive a second $10 fine, adding a total of $20 to the original ticket cost.

Ald. Mike Tierney, District 16, wants to increase the grace periods to 14 and 25 days to provide additional time to people with limited financial means pay their parking tickets.

“I don't want to ding people for an extra $10 bucks or have the overall amount they owe for a parking infraction increase even more just because they're living on a paycheck and their budget is tight,” Tierney said.  

Increasing the first grace period to two weeks would allow people who are paid every two weeks to receive another paycheck before the deadline to pay the ticket fee. Being a "a little bit more empathetic to what’s going on in people’s lives is a thing for city government to do,” Tierney said.

Parking tickets run between $15 and $150, plus a $65 towing fee if that is required. In 2018, the city received $4.96 million in revenue from citations, according to Finance Director Dave Schmiediece. This year, the city expects $5.49 million to come from citation revenue.

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Police are responsible for parking enforcement, except for some limited authority that the Parking Utility staff have to enforce violations that happen in off-street lots and garages. Parking enforcement supervisor Stefanie Niesen said the proposal to increase the grace day period would be a “minor change.”

Tierney said making the change now would coincide to when the city will need to reorder blank parking tickets, which prints information about the grace period on the back.

“The city is going to be reordering those, so now it’s an opportune time to make this change because it doesn’t cause us to waste anything,” Tierney said.

Tierney said he was inspired by recent changes in the city of Milwaukee. in February, the city of Milwaukee approved extending the ticket grace period from 10 to 14 days.  

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.