Parking Tickets Earn the City of East Lansing About $1 Million a Year

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Thursday, September 5, 2019, 8:59 am
Alice Dreger

The City of East Lansing netted about $1 million in revenue from parking tickets in the last fiscal year.

A spreadsheet released by the City in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by an MSU student shows that the 54B District Court brought in $1,134,188 from July 2018 through June 2019. That was the City’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.

East Lansing’s Finance Director Jill Feldpausch explained for ELi that some of those funds – about $100,000 – were directed to other entities like the County and State, by statute. In Fiscal FY 2019, the net obtained by the City from parking fines came to $1,017,213.

That money went into the City’s General Fund. In FY 2019, the entire budget of the general fund was about $35 million.

Tickets were paid for parking in a no-parking zone, on a sidewalk, too close to a crosswalk or fire hydrant, and so on.

The violation types with the highest revenue were, in order: parking on private property; meter violations; parking in a residential-permit area without the permit; and parking on the street from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

The student who put in the request that generated the spreadsheet did not respond to requests from ELi to tell us why he asked for the information. But the City’s FOIA log also showed a recent request from another student, Alaina Agnello, who also sought information about parking tickets, and she was happy to talk with us.

The FOIA log showed Agnello asked for documentation showing how many PACE officers wrote how many tickets in total for July of this year. She received a document showing that 7 officers wrote 1,905 tickets that month.

Agnello also asked via FOIA about the hourly pay for PACE officers, and was given information showing that their pay ranges from $15.55 to $24.25 per hour.

Reached by ELi, Agnello explained that she had taken a journalism class and that that class required her to file a FOIA request. She decided to look into parking tickets because of her own experiences with parking around town.

Like many MSU students, Agnello told ELi that while she understands violations can lead to tickets, some of the ticket levels are painful. One day she parked in a way that partially blocked the driveway of the friend she was visiting, and she received a fine of $45 for that.

“That’s a lot of money for a college student,” she said yesterday. “That’s a book” for a class.

Asked why she has a car, Agnello named the reasons many MSU students do. For many students, there are few ways to get from home to school and back without a car; transportation options in Michigan are pretty limited for many areas of the state.

Additionally, for Agnello, career-related school work takes her to other cities, including Detroit, which isn’t easy to get to or get around with mass transit.

Then there’s the issue of safety – being able to get yourself around in a locked car. This is especially important for young women.

Agnello said she has seen MSU’s parking enforcement people be quite aggressive. When she was working new student orientation for MSU, she saw the same officer come into a single lot seven times in two hours to write tickets.

So, she decided to file her class-required FOIA with the City just to look at some facts about the ticket-writing practices off campus in East Lansing. She said in our interview yesterday that she’s using her car less and less because, “As East Lansing grows into a big city, there’s just nowhere to park.” © 2013-2020 East Lansing Info