As Tulsa's mayor searches for ways to boost the city's sagging budget, one idea is to be more aggressive in collecting unpaid parking tickets.
Only half the parking tickets handed out each year are actually paid, and those who ignore them often rack up dozens of tickets. News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright goes in search of the top 10 deadbeats, the parking ticket â€˜Hall of Shame.â€™
The people with the most unpaid tickets get them in downtown Tulsa, parking too long at meters or in loading or no parking zones. When people don't pay two or more parking tickets, they go on a list that says their car can be towed.
The number of people who don't pay is no small thing. There is a long list of all the people who have four or more unpaid parking tickets. Once they're on that list, their car can be towed. But while the city needs the money, it doesn't have enough to have someone go around and find these cars. In the meantime, it's costing these people even more money. In addition to their original fine, they have late fines and a towing bill.
Many of the people on the list have dozens of tickets. But we picked out the worst. The people living at one Tulsa house, got 80 unpaid parking tickets in their Escalade, we decided not to knock on their door, after meeting their dog. The man who lives in a Tulsa apartment has 96 unpaid parking tickets. His number was disconnected and he wasn't home.
Many times these people move, leaving the city holding the tab. Bob Gardner with the city of Tulsa legal department, "In some cases, people move outside the city limits and there's no way to find them and if a lot of time passes, 5, 10 years, that citation is purged."
Others on our list, 86 unpaid tickets to a Dodge registered to an Oklahoma City business. 60 tickets to a Ford, whose address was the car dealership where it was purchased. 52 tickets to a man who lives in Claremore with an unlisted number. 53 tickets to a woman in Bartlesville who no longer lives at the listed address. And, the granddaddy of them all, 106 unpaid tickets to a man who lives in Cleveland, Oklahoma, who didn't answer his phone.
Bob Gardner: "Sooner or later, people get caught.â€ But, clearly, many people don't get caught or get their car towed, they just keep getting tickets and thumbing their nose at the system and a city strapped for cash.
The city says a more aggressive collection campaign could provide a one-time cash flow of nearly $400,000 and a yearly revenue increase of $137,000.