Hundreds and hundreds of parking meters are scattered throughout Downtown Savannah.
Even though just a nickel can keep the meter running some folks forget, or just don’t care, and end up with a ticket.
But you may be surprised just how much money some people owe, and how tough it can be for the city to collect.
“If every citation we issued was collected then probably about $10 million,” said Veleeta McDonald/Mobility and Parking Services Director
That’s from 125,000 citations every year.
But Veleeta McDonald, Savannah’s Mobility and Parking Services Director, says they don’t collect on every one.
About $3 million a year does come through her office.
“Some people might go that’s $7 million sitting out there.”
“No no. Not every citation is going to be collected,” said McDonald.
“Ok lets take $2 million off that aren’t being collected thats out there sitting there,” we asked.
“But the tickets aren’t going to go away,” says McDonald. “If we don’t collect them this year, or this month they may be collected 2-3 months down the road. the tickets aren’t going away. there’s still opportunities to collect them. We are not losing any money by not collecting that one citation. because the ones that don’t they will be out there writing tickets every day.””
Tickets which can add up quickly. News 3 went looking for the biggest parking offenders and got a long, long list.
512 people and businesses in our area that owe $500 or more. More than $347,000 in unpaid tickets.
The top names and numbers on the list, carriage tours, pedicabs, taxi services.
“The company is not liable, the driver is liable,” explains McDonald. “The company is not liable, the driver that works for them is the one who gets the ticket. Its going to a driver, so you don’t know exactly who those people are, you have to go through a process, some of them work at night, we don’t have anybody who works at night.”
“Do you expect to get every dollar back?”
“We expect to get every citation. We expect to get it back.”
There are some “regular” folks on the list too.. they get notices, phone calls, more notices.. and then a visit from one of four City Revenue Investigators like Charles Eggleston.
“You have $331 worth of tickets” Eggleston told one parking violator
Eggleston hunts down the parking “scofflaws” at their home or in local parking lots of garages.
“She was actually home which is a good thing. didn’t have to boot a car. We will hopefully try to work out an arrangement,” said Charles Eggleston, Savannah Parking Revenue Investigator
But not everyone is as accomodating. At our next stop.
“She has 7 tickets for $307,” Eggleston shows us. “Shes actually been booted about 4 times now”
Another car, another street, one more notice, next time its time for the boot.
“When they see that hopefully she will give me a call and let me know what her balance is,” said Charles.
“You expect to be back here next week booting her car?”
“I hope not but yeah, most likely I will be,” laughs Eggleston.
“Then she goes and pays and it starts all over again?”
“Yes. Unfortunately yes.” he laughs.
“If you get booted you have to pay those citations within 24 hours,” says McDonald. “If they are not paid within 24 hours then your vehicle is towed. Then its $125 added to your total and a $60 boot fee.”
McDonald says the message is getting out and the department is getting money from about 80-85% of the offenders. As for the rest??
“Its a debt, and eventually we are going to do our best to collect that,” explains McDonald. “You might see us one day. Who know your boot car may be the one with a yellow boot on it. You might be standing there watching. you never know.”
There is no statute of limitations on a ticket. It lives forever, you owe forever, and that ticket will continue to gather up penalties.
Businesses cannot always get new licenses until they pay their unpaid parking fines.
Other than the boot, technically you could go to jail, but that’s up to a judge.
It shouldn’t come to that. Investigators will work with you to work out a payment plan.