Your View: Parking pain


Your city government is at it again. The increase in the citys parking meter rate as a means to offset budget shortfalls has been well publicized. Now comes the latest attack upon city residents hard-earned dollars during these tough economic times.
During the holiday season I was visiting our local Ace Hardware because I needed to buy a number of light bulbs to replace those burned out in my house. Upon arriving I found a spot out front along with a number of other cars. Upon exiting the store I noticed a parking official ticketing a number of cars. It was after 4 p.m. and the parking of my car was a violation as the curb lane was now the H.O.V. lane. I take responsibility for parking in the right place at the wrong time my first such offense. What I take issue with is the fine: $200!
While I am fortunate enough to pay for this fine and not have it unduly affect my ability to pay for my heating, grocery or pharmacy bills, others in this city are not so fortunate. What of the family of four making $40,000 a year? Or the senior citizen living off of social security? If they too made the same mistake I did, this fine could very well represent some tough choices: Do I pay the parking fee and forego my medications for the month? Do we pay the bill and try and do with little or no heat for the month? Tough choices none of us would like to find ourselves making.  
The $200 fine is the second highest of all 37 parking violations, yet the next highest fine is $48.  A review of the citys 2011 budget shows that the proposed budget revenues for fines and forfeitures is $4.5 million. $3.3 million of that is parking fines. These figures roughly equal the 2011 salaries for the City of Alexandrias entire legislative and executive departments.  
Not one to complain and offer no solutions, I suggest the city council  propose a sliding scale where repeat offenders are subject to ever increasing fines (in extreme cases more than $200) while those of us who obey the laws and are first offenders are subject to a lesser, more reasonable fine.