Champaign parking citation revenue increased in past three fiscal years; City to review parking availability, gather data

You are currently viewing Champaign parking citation revenue increased in past three fiscal years; City to review parking availability, gather dataEthan Holesha
A Champaign Parking Enforcement Officer checks the meter on the corner of S Second Street & E Daniel Street in early Dec. 2023.

Parking citation revenue in Champaign has increased each fiscal year since 2021, but the number of citations fluctuated drastically each month.

The city earned more income each year from citations since fiscal year 2021, which began July 1, 2020 and ended June 30, 2021, when it had an income of $355,000. In fiscal year 2022, the department brought in over 42% more with $507,000.

The city earned $550,000 in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30 last year.

Drivers can be cited for a variety of reasons, carrying various fines typically ranging between $15 and $30, such as violating permit parking, parking in a commercial loading zone and parking longer than 2- or 3-hour limits.

Kris Koester, administrative services manager for the Champaign Public Works Department, said parking seems to be in short supply and said the department is seeking to gather data to fix the problem.

“We’re in the process of kicking off a parking study that will take a look at our total inventory and potentially make changes to expanding the footprint of where parking is available and parking is allowed,” Koester said.

Data obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request shows that, between July 2021 and Oct. 2023, there have been 71,212 parking violations on record in Champaign. With 1,871 parking meter spaces provided to the public in Champaign, that’s an average of over 38 parking violations per spot in just over two years.

The total cost of these fines is $441,250, and that doesn’t even include the accumulating fines. Data provided by the city did not include the value of accumulating fines because it is tracked differently.

Separate data from Jan. 2, 2020 to Dec. 4, 2023 shows the total time expired accumulating fines is $362,051. There were 83,287 such violations in this period. 

Common fines include permit citations, loading zone violations

Of the 71,212 total parking violations, 55,982 reported parking tickets had a value of $0 — over 78% of all citations listed. This is because they are accumulating fines, or fines that are still rising in value.

The vast majority of the 55,982 tickets with no value are listed as a “time expired accumulating fine.” This specific citation makes up over 96% of those without a listed dollar value.

Parking citations have elevating costs of $15, $20, $25, $30, and $250.

The $30 fines make up the majority of the total with a value of $250,530, about 56% in the past two years. The top three types of citations, using the violation base amount, that fall under the $30 category are:

  • Prohibited in specific places with $88,260 across 2,942 citations
  • Permit parking with $73,230 across 2,441 citation
  • Commercial loading zone violations with $33,150 across 1,105 citations

Other types of violations that result in $30 fees include not parking within the lines, manner of parking/meter district, loading zone/prohibited parking and obstructing traffic.

The $250 fines only accounted for $22,750 of the $441,250 in total citation costs. 

For violations with a specified value, “abandoned/inoperable/nuisance” violations had the most citations recorded with 6,457. This makes up $161,425 in fines, as these fees are worth $25.

In Champaign in 2015, the public works department started an initiative where an individual’s first citation is free in a 365-day calendar period.

A second citation would be a base fee of $15, citations three through five are $25, and citations more than five are $35.

If those are not paid in seven days, it goes up by $5. If it’s still unpaid after 30 days, it increases by another $10.

For example, a $15 ticket is an individual’s second citation. If it is not paid within seven days, it increases to $20. After 30 days, it will increase to $30.

After that point, there’s no increased charge, but there can be increased action.

If a vehicle or an account has five or more unpaid citations, the public works department can refer them to its legal department by filing a small claims court case against the vehicle owner. The individual would have to have at least five citations and owe $200 to qualify for that disciplinary legal action.

After this, the offender would receive a notice from the department, but the ticket is technically the first notice.

If one hasn’t paid after 16 days, they will be mailed a second notice. 20 days after this, the department will send out a final notice. If an individual accumulates enough citations, they will get notice of a final demand, which allows them to be placed on a boot and tow list.

Upon receiving the boot and tow list notification, the vehicle can be immobilized for being parked at a city meter or in a city parking lot if the license plate is found.

Insufficient parking discussed by city, data shows seasonal trends

Champaign built a 600-vehicle parking garage in 2009. Koester said the department was already having discussions about potentially needing to build a second parking facility close to downtown by 2017, just eight years later.

“I don’t think there’s a severe lack, but we do recognize that we have times where it does appear that there’s not enough parking,” Koester said.

The month of March has the highest number of parking citations issued with 3,786 citations distributed on average over the past two years. 3,845 were given out in March of 2022 and 3,727 citations distributed in March of 2023.

The date with the greatest citation fees since July 2021 was March 3, 2022 with fines totaling at least $2,670. The second-greatest highest day for fines was May 16, 2022 with a total of $2,200. The four greatest days on record were all from 2022.

Koester explained this pattern is seasonal.

“March of 2021 was when we restarted issuing citations after several months,” Koester said.

He said March is usually the first month everyone comes off of snow and ice duties. Parking enforcement staff, as well as parking maintenance staff, perform these duties so anytime there’s snow and ice, so the staff are typically not issuing any citations.

The next-greatest month for citations per year on average is December with 2,904 citations.

June has been the least active month for parking citations distributed with an average of 1,746 citations distributed each year.

Campustown parking sold out last fall

Campustown, the area on and near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, is also experiencing parking problems.

“I can tell you that for the first time in 12 years that I’ve been here, this past beginning of the academic semester, we sold out of all of our available on-street permit parking,” Koester said.

Sara Giangrande, a junior at Columbia College Chicago, had her car towed in campustown during move-in weekend when she was helping a friend move in for the school year.

“I feel like they know there’s people from out of town moving students in,” Giangrande said. “I think that they know they can prey on the lack of knowledge of people moving people in.”

After having her car towed, Giangrande was not notified where her vehicle had been taken and had to figure it out on her own. It ended up costing her $280.

“The process was a bit stressful because I had to call three towing garages,” Giangrande said.

Matthew Dombroski, a University of Illinois sophomore, whom Giangrande was helping move in, said he noticed signs of potential towing before they even arrived at his new apartment.

“It was move-in weekend actually,” Dombroski said. “And even beforehand, pulling up to my apartment we had noticed a handful of tow trucks roaming around Champaign and around the campus.”

Like Giangrande, he criticized towing during move-in weekend.

“The city should know that a lot of the vehicles coming down here are family and friends, such as relatives helping to move in,” Dombroski said. “They should know that there’s going to be an abundance of cars and not every car is going to be in the right spot for the time being.”

Dombroski himself has been towed in campustown in the past when he was visiting a friend’s apartment, which cost $175. He also received two parking citations, each for $65, during his time at the University of Illinois.

“In terms of where I was parking at, there were no signs or meters,” Dombroski said. “It was only along the outline of the parking lot that there were signs.”

Dombroski expressed frustration at the lack of parking spots in campustown and the surrounding areas.

“I just feel like there’s not enough public and free parking available around this campus and Urbana and Champaign,” Dombroski said.

He said he began walking to travel around campus and attend class.

“I’ve actually chosen to start walking more than driving because of the amount of times where I couldn’t find enough parking or where I parked. It’s about the same walk anyway,” Dombroski said.

He gave his thoughts on solutions he would want to see the city implement going forward.

“I would say add more meter parking or have meter parking at least more open, more available,” Dombroski said. “Have less private parking as well, or at least allow us students or whoever to be able to maybe even purchase those private parking spots.”

Every year during December, free parking is offered in downtown Champaign. The city-owned Hill Street Parking Deck is located at the corner of Hill and Randolph Streets and has more than 300 visitor parking spaces. The city has offered free parking in December every year for the past ten years.

Year-round in downtown, parking in the parking deck and at metered spaces is free on city holidays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The cost of parking staff

For the current fiscal year ending in June 2024, Champaign has a full-time equivalent of 14.2 positions for parking operations in the public works department. These positions include equivalents to one parking operations supervisor, five parking enforcement officers and four meter collectors and repair workers.

The salaries of each of these positions are listed on the salary schedule:

  • A parking operations supervisor earns between $85,901.40 and $109,673.20 annually
  • An administrative services supervisor earns between $74,197.24 and $94,738.80 annually
  • A meter collector and meter repair worker earns between $26.70 and $35.76 per hour
  • A parking enforcement officer I, of which there are four full-time equivalent positions, earns between $23.55 and $31.53 per hour
  • A parking enforcement officer II, of which there is one full-time equivalent position, earns between $25.46 and $34.10 per hour
  • A customer services representative earns between $24.47 and $32.78 per hour
  • An account clerk II earns between $24.47 and $32.78 per hour

Leave a Reply