Hundreds of Wellington motorists are to be stung with parking ticket price rises of up to 50 per cent - despite the council raking in more than $12 million in fines last year.
The price of a daily parking coupon will increase from $5 to $7.50 from next month.
A yearly resident-only parking permit in Wellington will also rise, up from $90 a year to $115 a year. It costs $150 in Auckland and $50 in Christchurch.
The moves come as Greater Wellington regional council prepares to increase bus fares later in the year.
Wellington City Council figures show an increase in parking fine revenue in the last financial year of nearly $750,000.
The council retained nearly half of the $12.3m revenue, but it says any profit is ploughed back into the city's roading costs.
Coupons are popular with motorists because the daily cost is cheaper than the $4-an-hour meters. While coupon parking is not available in the inner city, where street parking is by meter only, coupon parking zones are situated around the city and within walking distance of the CBD.
Latest figures from the council show it has issued 4659 resident-only permits for 5832 available spaces.
The Automobile Association urged the council to ditch its use of private contractors to manage its parking, or face growing animosity from the public over "unreasonable revenue gathering".
However, council spokesman Richard MacLean said that, if the council did not raise the parking fees, it would need to increase rates even further.
The new fees would make public transport a more financially attractive option, he said.
However, from October, Greater Wellington regional council is set to increase bus fares to cover the 2.5 per cent GST rise. The inner-city bus fare will double to $2.
"Commuters parking in high-demand areas cause considerable problems for the residents and businesses in those areas. The coupon fee is therefore set to discourage such all-day parking."
But Mt Victoria Residents' Association spokesman Kent Duston was disappointed with the increase.
"The council seems to put up the fees on anything that moves," he said. "We expect further increases in the next few years, too. It's very disappointing."
Council infrastructure performance manager Jon Visser said the parking fines revenue went towards other projects, including road and infrastructure maintenance.
"Ultimately, all money collected from offenders is returned back to the community through the improvement works we do."
Asked why there was a $750,000 increase in revenue last year, he said it fluctuated for a number of reasons, "including how many wardens are available in a given year, the state of the economy, and the weather".
The council issued 272,000 tickets in the 2008-09 financial year. Figures for the current financial year are not available.
Although the council has previously denied that staff have to meet ticket quotas, Mr Visser said the council knew how much revenue to expect from the fines.
"We don't set targets or quotas, but generally we are well aware, from collecting statistics, of the numbers of tickets we are likely to issue in a year."
AA senior policy analyst Mark Stockdale said the council's use of companies such as Tenix, which manages Wellington parking, annoyed people.
"The problem we have with parking enforcement is that it's contracted out to private companies, so it incentivises wardens to issue as many [tickets] as they can.
"If there wasn't a revenue focus, and the council brought its operations back in-house, it might mean there's less incentive to issue a ticket for petty, minor offences." It would mean fewer tickets for those who parked "just over a yellow line, or are running a few minutes late back to their car".
A NICE LITTLE EARNER
Daily coupons: 282,146 * (approx 1129 per weekday)
Monthly coupons: 3168 * (approx 264 per weekday)
Suburban trade coupons: 9183 (approx 37 per weekday)
Total: On average, approx 1430 coupons may be in use on any particular weekday. That means the council will collect an extra $893,750 a year - based on 2009-10 sales - as a result of the ticket price increase.
*Sales for 2009-10 (July to May actual, plus June estimate)
- © Fairfax NZ News
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