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      Prepare for larger fines for parking tickets in Utica


      If you get a parking ticket in Utica, be prepared to pay a larger fine. Police will be cracking down on people who violate parking laws.


      The Utica Common Council approved a city ordinance, increasing the fines for parking violations. It went into effect on Monday.


      Penalties for parking, standing or stopping violations (other than handicapped zone) was raised from $20 to $50. If the violator fails to appear or pay the prescribed fine within 72 hours of the offense, the fine will increase to $100. After 72 hours, you'll get a warning that unless the fine is paid or an appearance made within 10 days of the citation, the fine will increase to $125.


      Penalties for illegal parking in a handicapped zone was raised to $60. If the violator fails to appear or pay the fine within 72 hours of the offense, the fine will increase to $70. After 72 hours, you'll get a warning that t unless the fine is paid or an appearance made within 10 days of the citation, the fine will increase to $75.


      Some people driving through Utica on Wednesday were concerned about the increases.

      "I would think they would make the increase, as far as parking is concerned, a little bit more median," says Melanie Brockman. "Twenty dollars to fifty is a little bit steep."


      The Utica Common Council approved the increases in March.


      Utica Common Councilman Frank Meola says because the city decriminalized parking fines, the revenues have decreased significantly. He says the city used to receive about $700,000 from parking tickets. Now they receive about $300,000.


      Meola says that's just one difficult decision the city had to make this budget year, as it faced a $7.8 million shortfall.


      "We took a lot of cuts, especially in personnel," says Meola. "When you get to the line when you're decreasing police and fire, you know you're up against the wall and trying to find cuts."


      The council approved a property tax hike of 9.9%. Meola says the parking ticket changes helped keep that increase from becoming even worse. He says if people want to avoid the fines, they should make sure to park legally.


      What do you think of the increase in these fines? Is there a problem with people parking unlawfully in Utica? Post your comments below.

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