Nothing makes us feel stupider than getting a city of Phoenix parking ticket.
For one thing, it's never a surprise. The only surprise comes when, after knowing full well that we blew through the metered time, we don't see one of those piss-yellow tickets on our windshield. Worse, we're ashamed to admit, more than once we've let the grace period for the lower price run out, turning a $16 ticket into $31.
But now it's time to turn over a new leaf: The city's raising the stakes -- big-time.
As of this month, the cost of a parking ticket in Phoenix has nearly doubled. A typical $31 ticket will now be $57. The $15 discount for paying early will go up to $20; early birds will pay $37 during the grace period instead of $16.
That's right -- the city's trying to balance its broken budget on the backs of us scofflaws. The nerve! And this is after nearly tripling the hourly cost of parking at one of those @$^!#$^ meters in the first place. (The city council raised the price from 60 cents an hour to
$1.50 an hour in December 2008).
As city records show, the state began imposing surcharges on local court fines back in the 1990s. The state's take is currently 84 percent of the fine, and the city's been taking it in the shorts by failing to raise its fines accordingly. No doubt, the economy has something to do with the end of the generosity. Now, the city will add the surcharge on top of the fine amount. (Eighty-four percent of $31 is $26.04).
From the point of view of Phoenix, though, the new fees represent an era in which it will stop being jacked by the state.
Some of the city's highest parking fines -- such as the $250 to $500 fines for parking in a handicapped spot -- have been slashed to avoid cardiac failure on behalf of recipients. Disabled-parking-spot violators will now pay $276 to $552. (The discounted rate plus the surcharge).
Click here for a document that shows all the current parking fines. But don't forget to add that 84 percent!