County Hires Two Firms to Collect Parking Fines
Cholodofsky, Rich, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Westmoreland County has hired two companies to collect delinquent fines and court costs accrued over the years, including more than $93,000 owed by about 600 parking scofflaws.
A Tribune-Review analysis of court records revealed there are more than 1,100 outstanding parking fines throughout the county.
In Greensburg, about 790 tickets are delinquent, totaling more than $60,000 in outstanding revenue.
"I'm surprised by that number. I didn't have any idea the amount was that high," said City Administrator Sue Trout. "I'm not sure there is much we can do about it."
Greensburg, as the county seat, grapples with unique parking issues. In addition to a shortage of off-street parking, the city is host to a large contingent of daily visitors who drive to the courthouse.
Police Chief Wally Lyons said that because many of the parking offenders are criminal defendants with court appearances at the courthouse or other motorists with infrequent business in the city, collecting money for the parking offenses has proven to be a problem.
"We do everything we can do to collect, but we can only do so much because so much of it is from transient traffic," Lyons said.
Unpaid tickets are referred to district court, where fines are increased and eventually summons for hearings are issued. Failure to pay could result in an arrest warrant.
Lyons said that once a person accumulates three unpaid parking tickets, the city police can attach a boot that immobilizes a wheel if the vehicle is found in the city. That piece of equipment won't be removed until the tickets are paid.
Lyons said there are fewer than six booted cars in the city.
Parking tickets are big business in Greensburg. The city employs two parking enforcement officers who write as many as 150 tickets each weekday. The officers last year earned a total of $27,300 in salaries.
Last year, the city collected more than $284,000 in parking fines and court costs, Trout said.
The unpaid parking fines equal less than a half-mill generated by city property taxes. …