Parking fines down in Oak Park

Financial report shows dip impacting general fund revenue


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

If you've noticed less of those dreaded bright orange parking ticket envelopes on windshields around Oak Park this year, you've caught onto a "concerning trend" the village is facing when it comes to parking fine enforcement.

A number of reasons could be attributed to the reduction in parking tickets issued since 2007, but one factor could be having less parking enforcement officers on the street, said Craig Lesner, the Oak Park's chief financial officer, at the village board's finance committee meeting Thursday, April 26.

Multiple vacancies remain in the police department's public enforcement officer positions, which leave the entire downtown area enforced by one officer.

Parking fines in the village are 46 percent below first-quarter budget estimates — or by about $500,000 — which adversely affects the general fund revenue, Lesner said.

In the first quarter of 2010, the village projected collecting a little more than $1.1 million from parking fines, and brought in around $700,000.

In 2011, Oak Park budgeted taking in $900,000 in parking fines in the first quarter and collected about $500,000. In 2012, the village again projected slightly over $800,000 in first-quarter fine collections, but took in only about $400,000.

Although Lesner said the purpose of parking tickets isn't to generate revenue, the decrease may mean the department may need to re-evaluate its budget projections in the future if staffing levels remain the same. Evaluating if projected revenues are unrealistic and determining how to fill the vacant parking enforcement officer positions will be topics of discussion for staff, he said.

Lesner said other staff members plan to meet internally to consider options to deal with the decreasing revenue figures. Parking-related fines are impacted by number of factors, including the number of tickets issued, village parking policies, number of parking enforcement officers, degree of enforcement by parking enforcement officers, spoilage (fines waived) and reductions in vehicles and collection rates.

According to the David Powers, the village's communication director, the officers are selected the same way other municipal employees are hired. Initially, candidates are screened through human resources before involving the police department for a selection.

Candidates also must pass a physical, a psychological test similar to that given prospective police officers, Powers said. The current salary range is $33,343.90 - $45,985.75, with most earning below $35,000.

Powers, who posts openings on the website, said Tuesday that Oak Park is not accepting applications for parking enforcement officers.

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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William from Oak Park  

Posted: January 4th, 2014 6:31 PM

I recently got 3 parking tickets between Christmas and New Year. I paid one. One ticket was in a 2 hour parking zone with an unprotected driveway. The 3rd ticket was an expired meter. I contested the 2 tickets online with the Village and was unable to show evidence. Since the meter was 15 minute max and I put in 55 cents, I feel I am due 30 cent refund. I can't think of any other court in the Union where the defendant or plaintiff can't show evidence.

city may be down in revenue for business' may be up!  

Posted: May 4th, 2012 11:21 AM

Meters are aggravating! Towns that don't require payments-are pleasant. I'm in OP to support local business' & nothing is more aggravating than tickets - 2nd to meters. I am sorry for OP's loss of revenue but how about obtaining money in a less aggravating way. I have noticed the ticket reduction & it make's me want to shop in OP! Don't fill the positions - that's a budget saver! How about no more brick streets and foolish spending.Support OP local business' - by leaving customer' alone!!


Posted: May 3rd, 2012 12:03 AM

Hire a consultant. Obviously it is too complicated for the village staff to figure out. But don't pay them in checks under $25,000 without the approval of the Village Board. You might get fired this time.


Posted: May 2nd, 2012 5:06 PM

Are meter collections down?Are fewer people parking at the meters?We used to come to the Lake Theatre once a week.We would park in the lot on Lake next to the Forest/Lake garage,cause they had 12 hr meters(2 hrs not long enough)The meters used to be 25 cents/hr @ that lot & the lot on Lake next to the Post Office, used to have lots of cars.When they raised it to $1.50 an hr we quit coming,going to the York in Elmhurst where they have 3 hour parking for free. Those 2 OP lots now are near empty.


Posted: May 1st, 2012 6:59 PM

Calling Ray Johnson! Cat got your tongue all of a sudden? Your a Bankster, how could you let this bad budgeting go on so long? Nothing to say?


Posted: April 30th, 2012 1:01 PM

@Dooper: Not veiled Catholic bashing (I am Catholic, if it even matters). More like bashing of the pseudo-privileged you find occasionally coming/going at Fenwick. I do live across the street; you wouldn't believe how many people who, when I politely point out that they are in 24 hour permit only lot, tell me they don't care or say its the "cost of coming to Fenwick". Simply put, they are inconsiderate and don't even care how they may be inconveniencing others who pay high prices for a permit


Posted: April 30th, 2012 12:00 PM

Same line of questioning as j, but maybe I'm less harsh--just skeptical. Has someone done the historical data analysis (does it even exist?) of how many parking violations tend to occur so that we get a margin of error? How do we arrive at the budget number? I have no problem budgeting for this type of regular just needs to be realistically lowball. If we go over, great. But we should never be falling short. And what dept is responsible for creating that graph?


Posted: April 30th, 2012 10:57 AM

this is really bad budgeting: three straight years of over estimating and under-collecting on a budget line item is not a good thing. Shouldn't Lesner be fired for such incompetence? And why has our board of trustees not seen the trend and demanded that the budget line item be corrected? Oh right, more incompetence. The other half of the story: is parking revenue up? The revenue would need to be adjusted to show how many paid hours of parking vs. straight dollars to show a 1 to 1 ratio.

anne from Oak Park  

Posted: April 29th, 2012 8:39 AM

As someone who has worked in the village and has been in to the village for lots of money in parking fines you learn where not to park. As a rule I only park where it is legal and free.


Posted: April 29th, 2012 12:14 AM

Wow. CFO Lesner put two and two together and came to the conclusion that less employees means less services. Give him another raise.

Quick Fix from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 28th, 2012 9:22 PM

Ticket illegal turns at Oak Park Ave and Pleasant St and fix the budget gap in less than a week. It's like shooting fish inof a barrel. Most ignored traffic signs on the face of the planet.

Axle R.  

Posted: April 28th, 2012 5:19 PM

The street parking nazis got 50 bucks from me in a year. First one was bogus--ticketing agent "misread" K5 for L5 zone. Even though I appealed with photos, judge ruled against me because she couldn't see the address on building near where I parked. The second one was the other day in front of Pans. I put money in the meter for 15 mins. There's a short, fat parking patrol dude who patrols stretch of meters on Oak Park Ave. BE WARNED. He stands by meters waiting for them to expire. Nice going.

biker from oak park  

Posted: April 28th, 2012 3:40 PM

1. This was a great winter for biking and walking. I know I used my car far less than usual. 2. I don't park where I can get a ticket since I don't have a city sticker and don't plan on buying one - property taxes 17k - that's enough 3. Don't spend much money in Oak Park except for Starbucks, TJ's and a couple of restaurants - can't afford it! 4. If you actually ticketed speeders, you'd make some money...I realize that the roi is not as much because of the time involved.....

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: April 28th, 2012 1:05 PM

Can you imagine the unintended consequences to the revenue stream if we all rode bicycles? The Village government would be seriously cut back. And no Vehicle License income either. What a wonderful thought.

Larry Reuter  

Posted: April 28th, 2012 11:49 AM

Dooper 58, you live in a world of endless persecution. Complaining about parking near Fenwick is "veiled Catholic bashing?" Utterly pathetic. MAybe Clark lives near Fenwick and notices it more. Am I a Catholic basher if I dont live near a Catholic church or school? Again, pathetic.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: April 28th, 2012 10:53 AM

For my part, I have gotten my usual two or three tickets this year, which I have come to accept as part of the cost of living in our fair community. Maybe Villagers are now doing a better job of following the law (isn't that the point of the tickets?), or simply shopping more in FP. The sad thing is that our Village has come to rely on "bad behavior" to balance its budget. Maybe they could tax bullying in the schools!

Oakparker from Oak Park  

Posted: April 28th, 2012 12:45 AM

Could it be that residents/potential customers have "Seen the Light" and realized it is a hassle to buy in Oak Park? No vehicles-no tickets to write. Shopping or dining in Oak Park means parking and a possible parking fine is added to any purchase. In this economy who wants to take the risk of getting a ticket just to shop or eat? The Village must be looking forward to lots of parking revenue when the high rise on Lake St. is built without enough parking spaces.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: April 28th, 2012 12:01 AM

Jim Coughlin, a very comprehensive survey would be required and you know how the village can spend money for consultants who also can do surveys.

cliff from oak park  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 11:48 PM

I live at 338 s east avenue. 13 units. Every tuesday just before 3pm we tenants ring each others doorbells so we can go move our cars 50 feet and not get a ticket. I'm sure they will pass a law against that. If so, I plead guilty. Find a better way to get money out of your residents oak park! Your a classy town with a no-class parking system. If you own a home, you are 1st-class and the least ticketed. If you own or rent a condo/apartment you don't have class you get more than your share of tix.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 11:03 PM

There have been several comments from people who will not shop in Oak Park due to the fees charged at the meters and in the parking garages. Others say a ticket they received for a parking violation has driven them away. Is there statistical evidence to refute the notion that Oak Park's parking policies are an actual deterrent? Sales tax revenues would not be an accurate indicator as much the figures local retailers could provide as well as daily figures from the garages,lot and meters.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 11:01 PM

Less parking tickets is terrific news!! Tickets are fines to teach people to stop doing what they are doing to get the ticket in the first place. The Village parking patrol has done such an excellent job at teaching drivers to pay meters that they put themselves out of a job, and that's alright because that is why people get tickets. So congratulations Parking division, and if speeding tickets are decreasing, that is terrific too. We all deserve to thank ourselves for being responsible drivers.

op resident  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 10:26 PM

What we really need is consistent parking enforcement. In my neighborhood the parking enforcement doesn't happen unless someone calls. We live in an area with plenty of violations, just no enforcement. On the other hand, I overstayed my meter in a business area by 10 minutes because I did more shopping than I had expected. Bingo, an orange flag. If anything they should be easy on the shopping districts - they generate tax revenue!

Lifelong Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 9:56 PM

The aggressive/ hostile parking procedures are the reason that I will no longer shop in Oak Park. Therefore they are also losing my tax revenue. Maybe Oak Park should try to welcome shoppers instead of penalizing them.  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 7:45 PM

Lanny, Im surprised you cant appreciate a little European class in this community. William Shakespeare would.

Lanny Lutz from Oak Park  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 7:33 PM

We have a notorious history of aggresive-bordering-on-hostile parking enforcement. It's time to change that. Stop funding unneeded red brick roads, blue sidewalks, other expensive add-ons we do not need. Stop counting upon parking fines to fund anything whatsoever.

Dooper 58 from Oak Park.  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 7:08 PM

Two things...1) A municipality should NEVER budget for revenue generated by citizens breaking the law. All parking/traffic ticket $$ should be considered a bonus, and used to pay down debt or add to capital fund...2) Clark, lay off Fenwick. Veiled Catholic bashing on your part. There are plenty of car issues at OPRF as well. OPRF students should not be allowed to drive to school & park. Walk, bike, or bus. Walk the green walk, OP.


Posted: April 27th, 2012 5:54 PM

Have them hang out at Fenwick on Friday evenings and all day Saturday. The position will pay for itself. Also they need to start ticketing the students who park all day in 2 hour parking on East Avenue. Tickets stopped after I saw an administrator chatting up an enforcement officer. Something is fishy and the WJ should investigate.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: April 27th, 2012 5:54 PM

The Village Board's upcoming 2013 budget deliberations must take into account that the Village should not rely on projected revenues from parking fines and adjust spending accordingly. The parking fund has serious budget issues and needs to generate income to close a significant deficit. Has CFO Lesner provided additional data that details how his other 2012 revenue source projections are faring? Sales tax collections are said to be up but what's the picture look like for the rest of the year?


Posted: April 27th, 2012 5:47 PM

My neighborhood has a huge problem with cars blocking the sidewalk, cars parking in the alley, delivery & work vehicles blocking alley entrances/exits. Not only does it need to be enforced, but the Village is missing a revenue opportunity. I have seen more parking tickets/boots around my block the last few days though...if only we could get speeding/crosswalk/illegal turn enforcement to match. We need the $$$.

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