The Daily Evergreen

City Council votes to raise parking fines

Biennial budget plan, adding more police officers also approved

IAN SMAY, Evergreen news editor

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The Pullman City Council approved multiple agenda items dealing with issues ranging from parking fines to the addition of new Pullman Police Department officers at a regular meeting Tuesday night.

The council decided to approve a raise in parking fines in the city, City of Pullman Ward 3 Councilmember Brandon Chapman said. Parking fines have not been raised since 2000.

The move comes in an effort to free up parking downtown and to discourage those from abusing the fines, which the Evergreen reported in April as being below average compared to other cities of comparable size.

“It’s going to help alleviate some of the parking concerns downtown from those who abuse the two-hour free parking,” Chapman said.

As well as increasing the fines for being parked illegally, it will also raise penalties for things such as having a boot placed on your car due to repeated infractions or the failure to move a vehicle from a prohibited area.

The fine increase, which Chapman said had the support of multiple business owners, is meant to discourage people from parking illegally on purpose.

“So many of the folks that were getting ticketed downtown for 10 bucks, they were seeing it as a parking fee rather than a parking fine,” he said.

The new rules will work on a graduating fine system. While officers normally give warnings to first-time offenders, the fee will increase with each subsequent infraction, such as increasing by $25 for each offense after a person’s first parking ticket, he said.

Another agenda item approved by the council allows for the hiring of three new police officers at Pullman PD. Chapman said the move comes to ensure the department is fully staffed, as the council wants to emphasize the importance of public safety.

One issue the council sometimes runs into with the approval of new officers in one department is other safety departments wanting more members as well, Chapman said.

“It’s always a quasi-political issue when you increase staffing on the fire department, because the police naturally want to have more,” he said. “If you give more to police, then fire wants to have more. We don’t have to be in a situation where we’re comparing.”

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins gave a presentation in front of the council last month and explained the need for officers had to be addressed soon as it can take up to 18 months from an officer’s hiring to them actually starting full-time solo patrols, Chapman said.

The officers will create additional costs for the city, but Chapman said it had already been added to the budget and did not have an exact figure on hand.

The budget Chapman was referring to also received a change at the meeting, as the council approved a change making the budget move to a biennial schedule from an annual schedule beginning in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

This will allow for the council to more closely align the allocation of funds with the goals they set for the city, Chapman said. The need for this came due to Pullman becoming more complex in its needs.

“The complexities of our local society have reached a point where I think a biennial budget is smart to accomplish some of the goals we want to do,” he said.

This change has been supported by the council since City Supervisor Adam Lincoln began his term, and other cities in Washington have tried the biennial budget, with some adopting the change long-term while others found it unsuccessful, Chapman said.

About the Writer
IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Ian Smay is a senior journalism & media production major, with an emphasis in broadcast news, from Dayton, Washington. He is also minoring in criminal...

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City Council votes to raise parking fines