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I-Team: Kalamazoo parking enforcement contract change

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013 |
I-Team: Kalamazoo parking enforcement contract change story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - It is frustrating enough having to pay a parking ticket in Kalamazoo.  But what most drivers don't know is the majority of that fine you pay doesn't even go to the city, it goes to a giant national company, Central City Parking.

The Newschannel Three I-Team looked through the city's long running contract with Central City to run parking enforcement.  The latest has run more than ten years until earlier this year when City Manager Ken Collard's office checked into it.

"I just think it evolved into a situation that deserved a second look, we took a second look and we're gonna go in another direction at this point," says Collard.

The contract shows that with enforcement and management fees the city was giving most of everything it takes in to Central City.
 
In 2010 it gave 69% of all the money from tickets to Central City.  In 2011 it was 78% and last year it paid Central City $316,000 out of $ 439,000 collected which is 72%.

As a comparison, Battle Creek, the only other city in the area using Central City pays it around 21% of the total take.

"I assume we've drifted from something that was advantageous at least from a convenience standpoint to something that is a little out of whack from a financial standpoint," says Collard.

Now the city will hire three part time employees to handle parking enforcement in the areas outside of downtown.  It will fall under the supervision of KDPS.

Collard predicts a savings of as much as $300,000 each year.

We asked City Commissioner Don Cooney if he was disappointed the city didn’t find the savings sooner.

"It seemed like it was working, if it's not broken don't fix it but now that we're up against the wall in our finances it was really important we look at every possible thing," says Cooney.

The city plans to use the money it saves to hire two to three new full time KDPS officers.

Central City still runs parking enforcement for the downtown area for Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., but the agency says it will be rebidding the contract when it comes up for renewal.

Central City declined to comment on losing the city contract.
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