With half a year in the books, Oak Park has collected about 34 percent less than expected from parking fines — or $434,000. And officials say they’re unsure, exactly what’s causing the precipitous drop.

The shortfall was brought up during a village board meeting on Monday, to start chewing over Oak Park Village Hall’s 2012 budget. Chief Financial Officer Craig Lesner said they’re trying to delve deeper into the number to see what’s behind it.

Village President David Pope thinks that the economy has put a squeeze on people’s pocket books, and motorists are being much more cautious while finding places to park.

“People are saying, ‘I can’t afford to get a ticket anymore,'” Pope said.

Pope was curious whether Oak Park needs as many parking enforcement officers out there writing tickets, if revenues are down so sharply.

Village Manager Tom Barwin pointed out that Oak Park has added clearer signage around town, making it less confusing for people to park. And Lesner said that the village has been less strict in ticketing motorists for backing into parking stalls.

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