City sorting out ticket mess

Hundreds of snow citations are unpaid, under appeal


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

By John Sharp

of the Journal Star
PEORIA - With mid-March temperatures soaring to 70-plus degrees, the last thing on anyone's mind right now is snow.

But just a month ago, Peoria was nailed with a pair of storms that produced about eight inches of snow, 463 parking tickets at $200 apiece, and a host of fuming residents who will challenge their fines later this month.

If all the tickets issued were paid, they would be worth more than $90,000 to the city, money that goes entirely into the general fund to pay for a wide variety of city-related expenses. Some of the tickets have been voided; others will be appealed.

"What gets me is how much the city is making on this," said Lee Yaeck, an East Bluff resident who was ticketed for illegally parking his car in a snow route on Nebraska Avenue. He has no driveway. "I had no viable option. I don't have a driveway or anywhere to go. I could have gone into the alley, but it was impassable."

Thus far, the city has collected $21,680 of the fines rendered last month, payment from less than one quarter of thosethose ticketed, city records show.

Peoria issued 345 tickets worth a total of $67,750 in the Feb. 13 and 14 snowfall: as of Tuesday, 89 have been paid, 14 were voided, 66 are under appeal and 176 remain unpaid.

Hearings for the tickets under appeal - worth $13,200 to the city - are slated to begin March 30 at Peoria City Hall and run for three Fridays through April.

Today, if they remain unpaid, the fine increases to $300.

While not all the tickets issued were for illegally parking in a snow route, "no question about it, a majority of them were for that," City Attorney

Randy Ray said.

A Feb. 17 snowstorm led to 118 tickets worth a total of $22,800. Of those, 21 have been paid, 52 were voided, 11 are under appeal and 34 are unpaid.

City Manager Randy Oliver said the high number of tickets issued last month stem from a review of the massive Dec. 1 storm that dumped about a foot of snow on the area. Dozens of vehicles were stuck on city streets.

"One of the things identified quickly was the need to make sure (Peoria) streets stayed plowed," Oliver said. "Part of the recommendation is if you plow snow . . . it's difficult to get around cars that are parked."

He said the city issued a parking ban 12 hours before it began snowing on Feb. 13.

Peoria Police Lt. Elizabeth Buck said police did not aggressively pursue issuing parking ban tickets during either of the February snowfalls. Officers were not pulled from their regular duties to issue tickets.

In comparison, only five snow-related parking tickets were issued in Pekin, and five in East Peoria, in the same time.

Peoria issued 124 tickets for parking within a snow route in the days after the Dec. 1 storm. On Dec. 19, the city increased the fine for illegally parking in a snow route from $40 to $200.

John Sharp can be reached at 686-3234 or