Grantsville Mayor, Gary Knight responded to several questions by the Hur Herald
regarding the collection of parking fines for the Town of Grantsville. Mayor Knight
requested we report his answers verbatim, we have, they are as follows. |
1. Why is the Town of Grantsville not utilizing their own Court in collecting unpaid
Mayor Knight - The town is not utilizing the city court to collect delinquent parking
meter fines because it does not have the right, by state statute, to issue warrants as
it once did.
2. Why has the town decided to collect unpaid $1 tickets (which become $2 tickets)
by sending them through a civil suit process with the Magistrate Court? Many are
single one time tickets.
Mayor Knight - We felt that, as does any entity, be it individual or community, that we
had the right to seek payment via civil action through magistrate court. I told the
magistrate that I didn't want criminal charges just civil and that we didn't want
excessive burden on people, just some respect for our parking regulations. I don't
see where the number of tickets or fines owed is or should be the issue here. Does
one get any other type of ticket only if she/he already has some?
3. Are ALL people who have not paid their parking tickets going to be "sued?"
Mayor Knight - We certainly would hope that we have gotten everyone and left no
delinquent meter fines unattended. We do really try to be fair and thorough. If we
have overlooked someone, we apologize and will try to get to them as soon as
4. How much money have the parking meters generated per month January-June,
Mayor Knight - Since January, the meters are averaging $400.00 to $500.00 in
revenues per month. This is not enough. I just finished reading the last 26 years of
council minutes, and the minutes of past councils contain substantial evidence that
the meters were, at one point (several years running) collecting in excess of
$1500.00 per month with excess of $500.00 being collected in parking meter fines.
The ordinances mandate that the police monitor the meters regularly. Part of our
problem with the past chief was refusal to maintain them resulting in the revenues
falling to less than $400.00 over every few months. That's the best information we
have on that because we couldn't get him to service them any more frequently than
every few months. This, in my view, was a terrible and irresponsible tossing away of
much needed revenue for the town. Frankly, I can not believe that some people have
a problen with dropping a nickel or dime into a parking meter. Moreover, I would be
ashamed to know or for others to know that a town had to take collection action
against me because I refused to pay a measly $1.00 fine. Check on the fine amounts
in other towns. I contacted the WV Department of Highways regarding the legality of
the meters, and they thought it was ridiculous that we should even ask. The meters
are really the only means we have of regulating parking in Grantsville. The WV State
Code grants us the right to regulate traffic and parking laws and ordinances within
the town limits including along state highways. Were it not for the meters, long-term
parking would be a frequent occurence in front of businesses with customers having
less space and/or opportunity to park than they do now.
5. Any Other comments?
Mayor Knight - Our mistake in collection procedure was this. State statute mandates
that we take our collection grievances through circuit and not magistrate court. The
magistrate informed us of this after we had taken the tickets there and the notices
had been mailed. We are now pursuing plans to seek relief through circuit court. Ever
since my days on council, I have felt very strongly about the meters being monitored
and revenues being collected through them. Though I realize the days of $1500 per
month are probably long gone and irretrievable, we should still be able to rely upon
them to an extent that surpasses the recent past and I am committed to that. The
magistrate procedure may have been a mistake on our part, but the town's interest
was at heart. People should pay their nickel or dime or dollar, and I don't regret the
action we took.
In conclusion, I must say again that I am a little perplexed at the reaction to the
parking meter/ticket issue. How could anyone have best wishes for the town and
deny it such a simple and inexpensive yet substantial means toward financial well
being? We did publish notice that we would be monitoring and enforcing the meters.
In my view anyone who would resist paying a $1.00 fine to the point that collection
procedures should have to be taken against him/her should be embarrassed and
ashamed. I would gladly pay the coin or the dollar and wish the town well in doing so.