Motorists who forget to feed the meter can expect a larger bite from Nassau County.
The legislature of the cash-strapped county voted last week to double the administrative fees the county charges for handling town parking tickets, from $15 to $30.
That means a ticket at an expired meter in Port Washington, for example, previously $55, has just become $70.
The change comes to the dismay of Shawn Brown, North Hempstead’s deputy public safety commissioner, who fears that the increase will lead to a public backlash against the town’s parking-enforcement officers.
“People are going to be very angry,” Brown said. “An expired meter is $70 now. ... They should feed the meter, but is that an appropriate punishment for not feeding 25 cents into the meter?”
Brown said he received notice of the change last Wednesday, and the town began writing tickets at the new rate on Saturday.
Of the $70 fee for an expired meter, North Hempstead takes $30 — the rest, in fees and a surcharge, goes to Nassau County.
The current fee does not cover the cost of adjudicating cases in which the motorist is found guilty, and the county found “it would be more efficient and equitable to impose the additional cost on motorists whose cases result in a final disposition other than not guilty,” according to the language of the ordinance passed on Aug. 6.
Roy Smitheimer, executive director of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District, said he feared the new fee would cut into business, especially in areas where parking is scarce, like Port Washington.
“This does not help downtowns across Nassau County,” Smitheimer said. “Why would somebody want to take the risk of getting a $70 or $85 ticket if they can go to another community where they don’t have to worry about that, or go to the malls?”
Above: Betty Stephens hugs a parking meter outside her art studio, "My Studio" on Main Street in Port Washington. (May 31, 2012)