By Sarah Sterzinger
Public Safety notified the College of a rate hike in parking tickets on January 31.
“I have been informed by the Buffalo Parking Violations Bureau that effective tomorrow, Wednesday, February 1, 2017, all parking fines will be increased by $10.00,” said Wil Johnson, Director of Public Safety. For those lucky ones that don’t know, Canisius College issues City of Buffalo tickets whenever someone is within violation. This means that all money generated by the tickets, which are now around $40, goes right to the city. The decision to raise the ticket prices was completely out of the hands of Wil Johnson and Dr. Terri Manigone. In fact, they both were slightly blindsided.
“Wil Johnson sent out an email as soon as he heard about [the rate hike], [roughly] two days before [it] went into effect. What you have in the email is all they told us,” said Dr. Manigone, VP of Student Affairs.
The City of Buffalo has not raised its parking fines since 2002. In fact, Buffalo has the lowest parking violation fines in all major cities in Upstate New York. In a 2014 Buffalo News interview, Kevin J. Helfer, the parking commissioner of the city, stated, “We think our rates are fair and currently have no plans at this time to increase the fines.… We don’t use parking fines with the intent on raising revenues for the city.” So, three years later, we are seeing a raise.
Chair of the Public Safety Committee John Overfield has recently proposed that Canisius keep its tickets in house, using the proceeds to benefit Canisius clubs and organizations. He worked with Senate and USA president Elias Ayoub to prepare a proposal to have Canisius write their own tickets, however this plan was quickly refuted.
Dr. Manigone explained that the cost would be too high to reap any benefits of this proposal. Public Safety issues City of Buffalo tickets in order to use their already-in-place judiciary system. This allows people to fight parking tickets if they believe they are not guilty. Furthermore, in order to issue tickets, Canisius College legally would need to have some kind of judiciary system to comply with due process that is protected by the Constitution. The Senate and Overfield believed Student Life could handle this, as they handle other issues such as when students are caught drinking underage. However, Dr. Manigone thought that Student Life already had so much on their plate that it would not be fair, so there would be a price hike just to help pay Student Life.
Then, the City of Buffalo is able to hold higher legal authority over people who either try to skip out on tickets or who simply aren’t Canisius students or faculty. Members of the Hamlin Park community surround us. Public Safety does not really hold jurisdiction over them. Therefore, keeping the city involved allows the penalties of not paying to be greater and allows for authority over people that do not have anything to do with this campus.
While the idea of using parking fines to help pay for clubs and so on was a good idea, financially, it wouldn’t hold up. Canisius College Public Safety issues out less than 500 tickets per year, almost 200 in the first two months while people are getting settled. In fact, the number of tickets decreased this year by 100. Therefore, if each ticket cost the original price of $30, we would only raise about $12,000 per year. This is, of course, without the cost of expenses added. Canisius would have to pay for the tickets to be printed, and the employees to handle each case. That’s, also, if everyone pays their tickets. It simply wouldn’t be enough to move this into fruition, so we have to stick with the City of Buffalo and their set prices for the time being.
Canisius does, however, collect some money from so many cars being on campus. Those mirror tags are the school’s main source of income from students who drive to school. The money collected is then used to maintain campus parking lots and the ramp. Each year, the lines must be repainted and potholes must be filled. The money that is collected is not enough for every year, so Canisius cannot afford to add another project like creating our own tickets right now.