Wednesday, June 6, 2007, News 12 First at Five
AUGUSTA, Ga --- In a special assignment last month News 12 exposed the amount of money owed to Richmond County in unpaid parking tickets; seventy-eight thousand dollars over three years. The problem is in collection; the city just can't afford to go after ticket trashers. But we've been getting lots of viewer e-mail with possible solutions.
"I get a few miles in during the day," deputy Johnny Taylor told News 12 last month. He spends forty hours a week marking tires and tearing tickets downtown. But just because he writes them doesn't mean they get paid.
"It's useless, they're not gonna collect," says Jan Mangel. The News 12 viewer watched our special assignment "Ticket to Ride" that exposed more than seventy-eight thousand dollars in unpaid tickets; money Richmond County can't afford to chase down. It bothered her.
"My first thought was everybody's gonna have the attitude 'oh, well'. Heck, I would."
So Jan wrote to us citing two solutions. Threaten violators by towin their vehicles or report them to a collection agency. They're ideas we took straight to City Administrator Fred Russell.
"Do you need to go to that level of enforcement to accomplish our goal?"
asks Russell. He worries that with towing, there are liability and legal issues. So we asked him about collection agencies. Could the county report the names of drivers with outstanding tickets? "There are additional costs there," he says. "The bailiff, the judge's time. If they don't pay we've got to put them in jail and that costs me forty-one dollars a day to keep them incarcerated."
Strapped for resources and funding the county is forced to cut its losses. But Jan wishes it could do more. "Boy, I'd be on that door knocking... 'Excuse me. You pay up or go to jail,'" she says.