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Hagerstown mulls electronic system for parking, traffic tickets

August 31, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

In an effort to cut costs and increase efficiency, the City of Hagerstown is considering whether to adopt an electronic system for writing parking and traffic tickets.

Public Works Director Eric Deike said the information from the tickets would be processed immediately. The existing system, he said, usually takes an employee 90 minutes or more to register ticket information at the end of the day.

"It's a program where you can use a keypad to type in information such as the violation and the vehicle's make and model," Deike said. "Once you hit enter, it prints out a ticket and sends it wirelessly into the system."

Deike said adopting the electronic system would allow the city to write more tickets because the process is faster. In addition, a photo option that records pictures of the vehicle at the scene would make it harder for violators to contest their tickets in court, he said.

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The public works department would write the parking tickets, Deike said, and the police department would write tickets for moving violations.

Deike said the police department currently writes tickets for all violations, but the public works department will take over writing parking tickets because it recently assumed control of Hagerstown's parking program.

He said public works needs the automated system because the department doesn't have enough employees to record ticket information manually.

"We just don't have the manpower," he said.

Scott Nicewarner, director of technology and support services for the City of Hagerstown, said he estimated the automated system would cost $20,000 to $30,000. An additional $8,000 to $12,000 fee would be charged annually, he said, if the city purchases a feature that would allow updates to be downloaded over the Internet.

"Purchasing the system would involve not only the purchase of the software, but also the hardware, operating system and database systems needed to run the system," Nicewarner said. "This may increase the cost by an additional ($10,000) unless already bundled with the main system."

Nicewarner stressed that the cost estimates are based on a preliminary investigation into the system's use. The city probably would submit requests for proposals, he said, to attract bids from suppliers.

Nicewarner said the city would save money with the automated system because it uses thermal paper, which is a fine paper used in lightweight devices, such as calculators and adding machines. Tickets currently are written on special stock paper.

"The savings will be in the elimination of the manual handwriting of the ticket on special stock," he said.

Michelle Burker, the city's acting finance director, said the city collected $133,015 from parking tickets last year. She did not have a figure for the amount generated from traffic tickets, saying that money goes to the state.

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