Nearly seven months after the Missoula Parking Commission proposed raising parking fines for the first time in 36 years, the Missoula Downtown Association (MDA) has finally endorsed a parking fine increase.
Last month the MDA’s board of directors voted 8-3 (with one abstention and five members absent) to support the revised parking fine structure that was presented to the board in July. The new plan would increase all improper parking violation fines from $20, with the first violation waived.
“The three major priorities in developing the new proposal were: to be friendly to downtown customers, to be hard on abusers, and to evaluate the overall impact on fine revenues,” Linda McCarthy, MDA’s executive director, wrote in the group’s October newsletter.
Last April MDA was leaning toward supporting a different proposal, which would have bumped $2 meter violations to $5 for first-time offenses, $5 overtime fines to $10, and $15 improper parking fines to $20. But that plan was met with staunch protest from business owners, many of whom maintained that downtown parking is already a big enough problem for customers, and any increase in fines would deter shoppers from visiting downtown altogether. So the board agreed to bring in an outside consultant to help the parking commission and MDA devise a new ticketing policy that would raise revenue for the MPC—and thus increase the agency’s capacity to build more parking facilities—as well as maintain a “customer friendly” fine structure.
“For some people generating revenue so that we could build more parking was the important issue, for others modifying behavior was a bigger issue,” McCarthy says. “Hopefully this proposal will do both.”
Parking commission director Anne Guest was out of the office and unavailable for comment, but McCarthy says City Council will have to approve any changes before the fines go into effect.
“If people have questions, comments concerns, now’s the time to express them before it goes to council,” McCarthy says