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Jan 24, 2014 8:21 PM by John Patrick

Tucson parking tickets: some of the costliest in the nation

TUCSON - Parking in Tucson can be expensive, especially if you do it illegally. The city has some of the highest parking fines in the country. Now, City Councilmen are working to lower Tucson parking fines.

A basic parking violation in Tucson, like an expired meter, will set you back about $62. The same fine in Tempe or Scottsdale only costs about $40.

The most expensive fine is for illegally parking in a handicapped space which runs $562. In the city of Phoenix the same ticket runs $288, nearly $300 less.

The total parking fines are composed of surcharges and court fees. The base fine that Tucson's Park Wise receives is automatically hit with an 83% State of Arizona surcharge which almost doubles the base fine.

City Councilmen Paul Cunningham and Steve Kozachik say by lowering the base fine the total fine will be much more reasonable. The two are spearheading the mission to get these knocked down.

"Here we are trying to promote downtown and let people know what a great and friendly downtown we have. If they get slapped with a $300-$400 fine they are going to have a bitter taste in their mouth," says Cunningham.

During the 2013 fiscal year the City of Tucson collected nearly $675,000 in parking sanctions but Cunningham says many tickets are still going unpaid.

"The fines are so cost prohibited and so high that people aren't paying them so at the end of the day it may be easier to charge a lower fine and actually collect the money," explains Cunningham.

Joe Higgins, with Wake Up Tucson!, is all about supporting local businesses but after being recently slapped with a $188 parking ticket downtown he is a little hesitant about spending his time and money there.

Higgins says, "To the tune of $188 it's more of a 'geez we need to balance our budget on you and we're going to take you for all you got'."

Kozachik agrees the city is only hurting itself with these fines.

"We don't want to provide a disincentive for people to come downtown and spend their dollars. So I'm hoping the council will not try to use parking fees as a way to balance the budget. That's not the way to balance the budget," says Kozachik.

A review of the parking fines is scheduled for February. According to Kozachik, if an agreement is reached, lower base fines could be implemented 30 days thereafter.

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