Car near parking meter

A car sits near an expired parking meter Monday afternoon on Market Street. The city has been without parking enforcement officers since mid-December.

A lawless era in the annals of Meadville parking enforcement could soon be consigned to the history books.

The city has been without parking enforcement officers since mid-December, City Manager Andy Walker said Monday, but two job offers were made last week and one has already been accepted.

“Enforcement will pick up here in a couple of weeks,” Walker said.

The lapse in enforcement will have an effect on the city’s bottom line.

Enforcement can be weather-dependent in January and February when meters occasionally become frozen or inaccessible due to accumulated snow and ice, according to Walker.

Still, Chief Mike Tautin said the city raked in an average of about $11,000 from parking violations during the two-month period in 2017 and 2018.

Depending on the extent to which drivers have been aware of the lapse in enforcement, there may also be a drop in revenue from city parking meters, which were expected to bring in nearly $12,000 per month this year, though the amounts for January and February would likely be lower than average.

The enforcement lapse also comes after four weeks of free holiday parking at about half of the city’s metered spots from Nov. 23 until Dec. 21 — a gift to downtown shoppers and visitors that annually costs the city about $8,000 in revenue. While metered spots are free for up to two hours during the holiday shopping period, enforcement continues for those who exceed the allotted time.

Over the past two years, City Council members have commented repeatedly on the strong performance of the city’s parking enforcement staff members. For nearly the past two months, however, parking violations have been left to police officers to enforce. Given their other responsibilities, officers have tended to focus on more obvious and higher priority violations, such as vehicles parked in crosswalks or in handicapped spots, rather than run-of-the-mill meter violations, according to Walker.

The parking enforcement openings come after Lisa Hays moved to a position as a police department dispatcher in November and Ed Marin resigned due to new employment elsewhere in December.

Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.

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