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 June 6, 2003
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Providence Mobile Newsroom
Mayor Targeting Millions In Uncollected Parking Fines
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Mayor David N. Cicilline plans to aggressively pursue more than $18 million in uncollected parking fines at Municipal Court, even though some traffic officials
believe it's a dead end.
   The backlog is still being calculated and could go up, administration officials told The Providence Journal. Some of the delinquent tickets date as far back as 1983.
   The city's failure to collect the money looms large ``at a time in our ... history when we are desperately searching for resources,'' Cicilline said.
   Cicilline is leading a campaign to close a $44.4-million budget gap for the 2003-2004 fiscal year.
   Municipal Court Chief Judge Frank Caprio said much of the $18.6 million is uncollectable because violators have died, are students who moved away and cannot be found, or are indigent.
   Caprio said part of the backlog will be uncollectable because some tickets are written incorrectly. He dismisses such tickets when motorists come to court.
   Cicilline and John C. Simmons, a consultant working as the mayor's acting director of administration, believe $6 million or more can be collected. None of it is being budgeted thus far as a revenue for 2003-2004.
   The mayor is counting on an additional $2.9 million from the collection of fines for parking and moving violations, as well as more parking meter revenue, to help fill the gap. The collection
figure for last year was not immediately available.
   The backlog could be in part because of management inattention, understaffing and the city's hit-and-miss experience with the use of electronic ticket writing, officials said.
   Electronic ticket writing hastens ticket processing and improves the collection of fines, city officials said.
   The city's 18 parking checkers began using new electronic ticket-writing devices three weeks ago.
   To maximize the revenue from traffic and parking fines, Cicilline is revamping the way the city monitors parking, handles parking infractions and collections.
   He wants to hire a parking administrator and a new private collection agency to work on the backlog and to be more aggressive in the collection process. And he proposes to boost parking fines, boost parking meter fees by 35 percent to 100 percent, and extend the hours of metered parking, the Journal reported.
   He also wants to target the city's population of about 20,000 college students, some of whom, officials said, change their vehicle registrations in order to escape paying their accumulated
   The mayor wants a law enacted to allow their diplomas to be withheld until they pay any municipal court fines they owe any Rhode Island community.
   The mayor also is seeking state legislation to impose an additional tax on commercial parking lots and garages.
   From 1995 through mid-May, according to tentative city figures, Providence issued 1.8 million parking tickets. Of those tickets,
money is owed on at least 467,652.
   The backlog represents the value of the original fines, which currently range from $15 to $50. But the city's backlog could be said to be three times larger. That is because fines double after 14 days and triple after 28 days if they are not paid or the ticket is not challenged by a plea of not guilty.

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