Million bucks in unsettled fines


Dodgy carparkers owe more than $1 million to the Queenstown Lakes district.

Council figures show that’s the rolling total of unpaid tickets as of last month.

It includes outstanding payments from this year and previous years - some 11,394 tickets in total.

Regulatory boss Lee Webster says people who live in New Zealand can be chased through the courts.

“But if you’re from overseas, I’m going to struggle.”

Webster says a change in the law would help.

“Unpaid fines is always a frustration for us.

“If we could get a change in the legislation where you can’t leave the country until you’ve paid the fine, that would resolve a lot of issues and benefit communities.’

The majority of fines are issued in downtown Queenstown.

Fines range from $12 for exceeding a 30-min pay-and-display to $150 for taking a disabled spot.

Out-of-hours towing also racks up a $70 bill.

Some of the $1.04m backlog will filter through as the courts catch up with dodgers or people pay of their own volition.

But hundreds of thousands of dollars will never be recovered. In the last full financial year, 2014/15, the value of tickets issued topped $1m for the first time with almost 25,000 dished out.

The figures do not include freedom camping fines.

Webster says the council hasn’t suddenly employed a swag of new wardens.

That’s despite an increase from about 20,000 tickets worth about $890,000 issued in the year 2010/11.

“We’ve got growth within the district, more people coming here, and a percentage of those people are not following the rules.”

And contrary to popular opinion, wardens don’t receive a bonus for the number of tickets they issue.

“No, I’m sure they’d like to. But absolutely not, they’re salaried so whether they issue $10m or $1 they get the same pay.”

The number of tickets council has to waive due to errors has decreased from about 2400 in 2010/11 to 1600 in 2014/15.

Webster says there have been fewer mistakes by wardens, helped by ticketing going digital.