Parking fines set to rise

Dunedin parking fines will rise by $2 to $12, but motorists will be given an incentive to pay early - a $2 discount.

The city council agreed yesterday to the idea, which it was hoped would encourage people to pay and help reduce an almost $1.6 million total of unpaid fines.

That was despite some questioning about whether the plan would make any difference.

A report to the annual plan hearings committee from parking enforcement team leader Daphne Griffen said the council discussed with the Ministry of Justice the increasing number of unpaid fines lodged with the ministry.

In the past five years, an average of 75,000 fines were issued annually. About 50% were $10 fines, and 18% of those remained unpaid.

A plan was devised to increase the cost of those fines to $12, with a $2 discount if the fine was paid in 28 days.

Cr Paul Hudson said people he had spoken to had "just laughed" when asked if $2 would make a difference.

But acting chief executive Athol Stephens said the issue was vexed.

One reason for the amount outstanding was the ministry never wrote off fines from its list, so an international student who got fines in 1994, then left for their home country without paying, would still be on the list.

The Government would not allow councils to employ private agencies to collect outstanding fines.

City environment general manager Tony Avery said the level of fines was set by the Government, so the council could not follow Cr Hudson's suggestion of making the fines $20, and the discount $10.

Asked by Cr Jinty MacTavish if he thought the $2 would make a difference, Mr Avery said no work had been done on that, because the limits the Government imposed on the level of fines meant they could not be much higher.

The committee voted to go ahead with the change, despite Cr Lee Vandervis' claim it was a "disguised way of increasing the fee", and Cr Bill Acklin's suggestion it should be either $10 or $12.

- david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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