Parking ticket deadbeats are on notice - cities have a powerful new tool
SALT LAKE CITY, UT —
(KUTV) Every day in Salt Lake City, thousands of people are competing for parking spots.
While most park legally, dozens of others take a risk and end up getting a ticket.
Candice Saxey, for example, gets dozens of tickets each year. Savey lives right next to the state capitol, where it's often impossible to find a place to park.
"I have so many tickets that I actually have a scroll bar when I log into pay my tickets,” she said. “I probably have between 30 and 40 tickets."
Saxey says she always pays the fines, joking it’s her civic duty.
"I am paying for us to have smoother streets,” she laughed. “I am the one paying to get those pot holes fixed."
But a Get Gephardt investigation found many who receive parking citations are not acting as responsibly as Saxey.
Parking tickets are big business for Salt Lake City. In the last eight years, the city has issued 1,088,476 parking tickets and have collected $33,784,744 in subsequent fines.
While that sounds like a lot of money, public records show nearly a quarter of what's owed is uncollected. To date, $9,860,934.03 is due but going unpaid.
Salt Lake City’s finance director, Mary-Beth Thompson, says the number frustrates her. That’s money that should be going to fix streets, improve parks or pay city employees.
Thompson says the city is doing everything in its power to collect on the debt, including assigning five employees, full-time, who do nothing but attempt to collect the debt. The power has proven limited, but soon, the city will have a powerful new tool.
The city is beginning to work with the Utah office of state debt collection. A law passed in 2016 allows any city to send its tough-to-collect debts to the state for help.
“OSDC has many different collection companies that work for them, so it's not like just us handing it to one individual collection company. It's sending it to several different collection companies to work,” Thompson said.
When that still doesn't work, the OSDC can just take the money from the deadbeats, seizing it directly from his or her state tax return.