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Connecticut: Counting on Parking Revenue Does Not Pay Off
New Haven, Connecticut's overreliance on parking ticket revenue leads to a $7 million budget deficit.

John DeStefano Jr
New Haven, Connecticut's attempt to fill a multimillion-dollar budget gap by cracking down on motorists with aggressive meter maid tactics has failed. Fitch Ratings of New York downgraded the city's bond rating after a report showed the city $7 million in debt because it was counting on one-time sources of revenue. The move is a blow to Mayor John DeStefano Jr. who has championed the one-two punch of issuing a lot of tickets followed by ruthless collection tactics.

"We're still using one-time revenue items, but we're not calling it that; we call it ticket collection or building permits," Alderman Jorge Perez (D-5) told the New Haven Register. "At some point, we're going to run out of that, because someone is going to pay the tickets, someone is going to pay it all off. There is only so much money you can move around."

The 2005-06 fiscal year budget expected $5.5 million in parking ticket revenue plus $4 million collected from old tickets using the city's BootFinder car confiscation program. The total figure represented a doubling of the revenue from the previous fiscal year. November's budget report shows, so far, the city has only collected $1.3 million.

Desperate for revenue, the city will now drive its already aggressive meter maids to issue even more citations. Two-thirds of these tickets are designated for motorists who do not live in the city. New Haven will also ramp up its BootFinder program which tows cars off of private driveways if the city's computer system thinks its owner has as little as $200 in unpaid property taxes. A computer scanner is used to search city streets, parking lots and private homes for vehicles to confiscate -- New Haven grabbed 1800 in the program's first six months of operation.

Yale and Southern Connecticut State universities recently refused the city's request to withhold diplomas from anyone who owed the city money.

Source: Ticket revenue millions short (New Haven Register (CT), 1/16/2006)

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