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Utica parking fines double in 2012

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Utica parking fines double in 2012
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New motivation has been breathed into Utica's parking enforcement since this fall.
Enforcement officers have been writing far more tickets, and following through on more, too.
But as our Andrew Sorensen tells us, all those tickets are turning into quite a saving grace for the cash-strapped city.

UTICA, N.Y.-- It can be hard to find a good parking spot in downtown Utica, but before taking that "No Parking" space to just run into the store, you should think about who you're up against.

There's a new parking enforcer in town, and he's apparently very good at what he does.

Utica Parking Commissioner Michael Mahoney says tickets are up nearly 50-percent per month on average.

Just in the month of October the officer wrote nearly 700 tickets.

"I think he's very energetic, he's definitely a go-getter, and he's working hard out there," Mahoney said.

All of those tickets have led to more people coming to court to dispute the claims, but he's got them there, too, with photographic evidence.

"Well you can see clearly, you're parked in front of the fire hydrant, or you're parked in that handicapped zone when you shouldn't be," Mahoney explained.

While these people probably aren't pleased with it, the increased enforcement, on top of the increased fines the city council passed this year have boosted new revenue to just shy of $300,000 for the the city.

Budget director Peter Fiorillo said, "We're probably going to double our revenue from two years ago."

One-hundred and fifty thousand dollars may not seem like much but an inconvenience if it's coming out of your wallet, but there is another way to look at it: a small price to pay to keep your taxes from going up.

"Last year's budget, a tax increase of one-percent equated to about $192,000 dollars in that area," Fiorillo said.

He also said that may seem small, but while he's trying to stay under the two-percent cap and avoid more city layoffs, every bit helps.

So if you want to park illegally, don't be surprised if you get a ticket, but don't feel bad, because you are helping out in a small way.

The city says it's working hard to increase other revenue sources as well. Utica leaders are hoping to raise millions of dollars through programs like increased parking enforcement.

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