Over 17,000 parking citations issued in Breckenridge over 12-month span
Breckenridge Parking Changes
At town staff’s recommendation, Breckenridge Town Council has agreed to the following changes to the town’s parking fees:
• 100 N. Main to 400 S. Main — Increase off-peak rates (Monday-Thursday) to match peak rates (Friday-Saturday). There will be no increase for the first additional hour, but the second additional hour will go from $1 to $2. Every hour thereafter will go from $3 to $5.
• F-Lot and 100 N. Main to 400 S. Main — Increase weekend rates after the first two hours. For three hours on Main, the price would go from $4 to $5. For four hours at F-Lot, the price would go from $8 to $10.
• Overnight parking at ice rink — Increase the weekend rate (Friday-Sunday) from $15 to $25.
• Overnight parking at Satellite Lot — Increase the weekend rate (Friday-Sunday) from $5 to $10.
Source: Town of Breckenridge
Breckenridge’s parking ambassadors — the people who write the tickets — have issued more than twice the number of citations over previous years, even though the vast majority of those won’t ever get paid.
Contracting with a private company, Breckenridge turned over parking enforcement responsibilities to Interstate Parking in November. A couple positions were eliminated from the town’s community service department in the transition, though no workers were laid off thanks to reassignments and attrition.
Discussed at last week’s town council meeting, Breckenridge’s annual parking report covers the 12 months from May 2017 through April 2018, during which time the number of citations skyrocketed from 7,598 the previous year to 17,307 during the same time frame in 2017-18.
The word “citation” could be misleading because, out of the more than 17,000 citations issued during the 12-month period, over three-fourths were warnings and required no action from the vehicle’s owner.
“That’s a lot of warnings,” town manager Rick Holman said, slowly drawing out his words for emphasis.
Excluding the warnings and voided tickets, the number of citations actually drops to 4,126 for the most recent 12-month period, which is up about 1,000 citations over 2016-17 but way down from each of the four years prior when the figures were as high as 6,832 payable citations.
“It’s gone up and down,” police Sgt. Matthew Collver said of the payable citations, written first by Breckenridge police and now Interstate Parking’s ambassadors. He added that in 2016-17 the town had started giving first-time offenders warnings, and that’s one reason the annual reports show the dramatic drop from 2015 to 2016.
“So that total really stays about the same,” Collver said. “We just wrote a lot more warnings.”
With Interstate Parking’s full-time workers devoted to enforcement, he continued, drivers are getting more warnings than ever, even though the town’s revenue from citations has remained flat the last two years.
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While revenue from citations was up 2 percent at $128,266 in Breckenridge’s latest 12-month report, that figure remains far below the $370,344 Breckenridge received in revenue in 2015-16, before the town was issuing warnings for first-time offenders.
In 2016, Breckenridge also implemented on-street paid parking as part of the town’s ongoing effort to better manage its parking inventory and promote the turnover of parking spaces, especially in the downtown core, with the goal of achieving 85 percent occupancy.
At 85 percent occupancy, there would be roughly one or two open spaces per block, according to Collver, who added having a few open spaces cuts down on drivers circling and thus limits traffic congestion.
It appears some of the town’s efforts are working. According to the annual parking report, F-Lot consistently had the longest stays with over half of the cars parked there remaining on-site for five hours or longer.
Two other town-owned lots also designed to address longer-term parking needs — Wellington and Tiger Dredge — each one had more than one-third of their parked cars remaining on the lot for five hours or more.
At the same time, all other town lots and parking areas, including Main and Ridge streets, were far less likely to see those longer stays, as their most common parking durations ranged from one to three hours.
Overall, the town saw $1.4 million in revenue from paid parking from May 2017 to April, according to the report. Because the town pays Interstate Parking a flat fee for its services, town staff say the company has no financial incentive to write high numbers of tickets.
The most common parking infraction was for nonpayment with 13,255 violations. Parking in prohibited areas was a distant second at 1,729 violations, and overnight parking between the hours of 2-6 a.m. was the third most common infraction with 581 violations.
In terms of collecting on payable citations, the average collection rate typically ranges from 78-80 percent for the end-of-season analysis. The most recent 12-month period is about 11 percent behind previous ones, but those years were updated for this report. Plus, the rate for 2017-18 should increase as violators continue to pay their tickets, according to Collver.
Noticing surges in overnight parking at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena and the Satellite parking lot, in addition to still trying to manage parking in crowded lots and downtown streets, Breckenridge is looking to implement a series of relatively minor changes to the town’s parking fees along with having more targeted enforcement in some of the busiest areas.
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