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Clerk objects to planned parking fine increase

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Evanston City Clerk Devon Reid says he’s opposed to a planned doubling of parking meter fines up for consideration by aldermen Monday night.

Deputy City Manager Erika Storlie says the boost from $10 to $20 for parking at an expired meter would be the first time the fine has been increased since 1976.

Based on the change in the consumer price index, $10 in 1976 is equivalent of $43 today.

The change is expected to increase ticket revenue by $390,000 a year and would make a small dent in a projected $4.3 million budget deficit this year.

But Reid, in a message on his Facebook page, called the hike “regressive” and said it would “disproportionately fall on the shoulders of Evanston’s lowest-income residents.”

In an interview, Reid didn’t suggest that lower income residents are more likely to get tickets for parking meter violations, but that the same size fine hurts them more that it would the wealthy.

He suggested a couple of alternative sources for new revenue that he contended would be less regressive.

He proposed increasing the city’s 6 percent liquor tax rate to 7 percent. Assuming sales stayed the same, the increase would raise about an additional $500,000 per year.

However Evanston’s liquor tax is already the highest in the state and three years ago was the subject of a petition drive by restaurateurs and others seeking to get it reduced.

Restaurateurs are also feeling the impact of the city’s decision not to opt out of the county’s minimum wage hike — which will increase minimum wage labor costs by 57 percent over the next three years.

Another alternative, Reid suggested, would be to increase the real estate transfer tax. He suggested that might be coupled with a “cutout” provision that would exempt from the new tax properties of less than a certain value.

Evanston voters have twice rejected increasing the transfer tax — once in November 2006 when the objective was to fund affordable housing programs, and again in February 2008 when the goal was to reduce the city’s public safety pension debt.

Aldermen Monday are also scheduled to consider two additional change to parking rules.

A proposed increase in fines for parking in street-sweeping areas would raise an estimated $75,000 a year.

And a proposed reduction in the number of unpaid tickets that qualifies a car to be booted from five to three is expected to increase revenue by $150,000 a year.

Related story

Ticket scofflaws may get the boot sooner (7/6/17)

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