8.4.08

IT'S NOT A SOUVENIR. Sycamore, Illinois, still has penny parking meters and the fine for a parking violation is ... two bits. Some people deliberately let the meter expire to get a relatively cheap conversation piece, but there are others who are abusing the system.

Police Chief Don Thomas said the fines are the cheapest in the nation and are often disregarded by employees of downtown businesses and those who work at the DeKalb County Courthouse who spend all day in spaces intended for downtown shoppers. He proposed raising the first ticket from 25 cents to $1 and the second ticket from $1 to $2. He said those fines would still be among the lowest in the country.

“We're hoping a $1 fine will at least get their attention,” he said.

Though 1st Ward Alderman Rich Neubauer said he was in favor of raising the amount for the second ticket, he feared that raising the 25-cent fine to $1 would discourage downtown shopping.

“I'm concerned we're also going to catch in the net the people who just had an oops, and that's going to create a negative impression of our downtown,” he said.

Even at $2 and $3 fines, some frequent offenders have garnered hundreds of dollars in unpaid tickets, City Manager Bill Nicklas said. Two people owe more than $1,000 apiece, while a dozen more owe at least $250.

Sycamore officials are considering giving scofflaw cars the boot.

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