Parking windfall

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Queenstown’s council raked in almost $4 million in just nine months from parking charges, fines and regulatory fees – $1m more than it expected.

It had expected to take some $2,860,000 by the end of March, three quarters into the financial year.

But a committee report shows it actually collected a staggering $3,972,000 across the district in those months. The bank balance boost follows a crackdown on parking in the CBD, which included hiking rates and restricting spaces.

The council says it’s a result of growth, and more people dishing out the tickets.

The figure includes cash people pay to park legally and also fines.

A grand total of 44,074 parking fines were issued between July 1 last year and June 13 this year, including some 3148 tickets for the ill-defined offence of ‘inconsiderate parking’.

They’re $60 a pop, bringing the council $188,000.

Queenstown comedian Mike Legge, who was pinged with an inconsiderate ticket after Luma earlier this month, says: “I was parked in a carpark, I don’t know how inconsiderate that is.

“It just seems like a needless thing to have on the ticket.

“What they’re saying to the community is ‘you might as well stay at home’.”

Mayor Jim Boult wasn’t keen to wade into the issue.

“It’s something I would not want to get involved in at all.”

But council comms advisor Rebecca Pitts says: “Our officers are fully trained and warranted and we have full trust in their ability to undertake their job efficiently.”

She says “our officers do often write notes for internal purposes” about inconsiderate tickets issued.

The most tickets, some 11,197, were doled out to parkers who didn’t have a pay-and-display ticket, while 4428 were for parking on yellow broken lines.

Inconsiderate parking does not include any of the other 51 offence categories that can earn you a fine.

So what is it, exactly?

According to the council, “inconsiderate” is defined in the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 legislation.

It states: “… a driver or person in charge of a vehicle must not stop, stand, or park the vehicle on a road, whether attended or unattended, without due care or without reasonable consideration for other road users”.

Pitts says there are nine full-time parking wardens across the district.

More than 4500 people appealed parking tickets in the last financial year.

Just over a quarter of those were written off with an accepted explanation – 136 written off were for inconsiderate parking.

If anyone felt they’d been ticketed unfairly, they should contact the council, Boult says.

The expected $2,860,000 in regulatory fees was supposed to include some $1,100,300 from traffic and parking infringements, $1,058,000 from pay and display carparking, and $455,000 from people breaching the freedom camping bylaw.

A report to the audit, finance, and risk committee shows the latest revenue figures, confirming it has actually taken in $3,972,373 to March – more than it expected for the full financial year.

An increase in parking fees across the CBD came into effect on December 5.

Daily and weekly rates were scrapped in April at council-owned carparks, while a four-hour maximum stay was introduced at Queenstown Gardens and One Mile.

Boult said the changes were necessary to subsidise the new public bus service, which launched in November.

Just last week councillors also voted to crackdown on parking in Frankton.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz