Focus not fiscal - ICC

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 16:00 13/12/2012

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Parking meter wardens. Think what you like about them but in Invercargill they certainly can't be accused of doing a poor job - by their employers anyway.

The Invercargill City Council's four parking wardens issued nearly $400,000 in fines in four months but their boss says their focus is not financial.

The three fulltime and one part- time parking wardens issued a whopping 8642 infringement notices worth $374, 971 between July and October. On average, that meant each warden made an impressive $93,742, and about $23,000 a month, for the council.

But ICC council compliance manager Debbie McCallum said the final revenue figure for the period would be about $300,00 because it had waived about 20 per cent of the original tickets.

Ms McCallum was also quick to quash any suggestions that the wardens might receive bonuses or incentives for their efforts.

"God no, " Ms McCallum said.

The council also pointed out that those figures were on a par with previous years when it made nearly $1 million from parking infringement notices in the most recent 12-month period.

From July 2011 to June 2012, the council netted $987,083 in parking fines and tickets, down slightly from the previous financial year when $1,098,478 was collected.

As telling as those figures seem, the ICC's parking wardens may not be as good at their job as those from the Nelson City Council.

In a five-month period, from July to the end of November this year, Nelson's two fulltime and three part-time parking wardens returned $565,905 in revenue in a city with a slightly smaller population than Invercargill.

Ms McCallum said despite hauling in millions of dollars in parking fines, her council's focus was not financial but about ensuring safety and fairness.

She said pay and display parking was also a good alternative because it let people coming into the city to park for extended periods of time.

Even with the range of parking in the town centre, drivers continued to rack up parking fines with a total of 59,994 tickets issued from July 2010 to October this year.

Parking infringement notices ranged from $12 for being up to 30 minutes overdue, up to $200 for failing to display a current Warrant of Fitness and $600 for commercial vehicles caught with no or an outdated certificate of fitness.

But Ms McCallum said the city was lucky regarding parking.

"We are fortunate in Invercargill because we don't have to walk far to reach unrestricted free parking areas."

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What do you think about the Invercargill City Council's parking fines collection efforts? Are you surprised by the returns? Do you think the wardens are being too tough? Or are drivers being rightly fined for breaking the law? Leave a comment here or email theeye@stl.co.nz

- The Southland Times

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