From the Editor’s Desk: We can’t just ignore a parking fine problem

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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There has to be a balance. We can’t just ignore a problem, but the response can’t be so severe that it drives people away. Last week, plenty of people had things to say about the proposed parking fine increases the Farmville Town Council was looking at. Some were in favor, others were extremely opposed. But out of all the conversations popping up both on social media and in the council meeting itself, I think there were some very valid points. Basically, I think there’s a way to meet in the middle here. 

First off, let me explain what I’m talking about. The town council’s been looking at parking fine increases in the downtown area, as a way of cutting down on unpaid parking tickets. One tier of fines would be $25, the second would be $50, which would go up to $100 if not paid within a two week period. The idea has been if you make those tickets severe enough, people will either pay the ticket or leave their space before the meter runs out. 

And that has been an issue, with some folks parking in spots for hours and just ignoring the tickets, yes tickets as in plural, which continue to add up. To this, Farmville Town Manager Scott Davis raised a good point in last week’s meeting. You can’t just let people keep doing this. It leads to a domino effect. It always does. When one person sees somebody get away with it, they’ll do the same. Then someone else will follow their example and so on. So let’s be clear, there does need to be some teeth in the fines, in order to stop this from happening. 

A parking fine accident

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But I would argue those teeth need to be shown to the ones not paying their fines. The majority of folks, when they get a ticket they may not be happy, but they’ll pay it and move on. That’s why the fines I’d argue need to reflect that fact. They don’t need to be as high because chances are, most of the time they come as the result of an accident.

Anybody can forget the meter’s running. Maybe a meeting took longer than expected. Maybe that item you’re picking up from the shop was a little heavier than you thought, so you needed to wait for help to carry it out. Or maybe you just got caught up in conversation. It happens. Serving up the nuclear option for these folks won’t solve anything, because I’d argue they’re not the problem. If they’re busted, they show up, pay the ticket and that’s it. 

Instead, I’d say if we want to fix the problem, we make it extremely undesirable to not pay tickets in Farmville. Hey, everyone makes mistakes, you pay your parking fine and it’s no big deal. But if you let ticket after ticket pile up, then yes, an example needs to be made and you have nobody to blame but yourself. If it’s one month later and tickets sit unpaid, then it’s time to get hit with late fees. Collect enough unpaid tickets and your car gets impounded. I’d argue that gets the point across, while also not being too harsh on the folks that just accidentally get one while out in downtown. 

Some possible solutions

Now granted, especially if someone gets a ticket and they live out of town, it might take a few weeks to pay, as they’re likely not driving back here to do it in person. They’ll put it in the mail or try to pay online. And we know how much fun it is to wait on the mail. I just last week got something that a family member in Western North Carolina postmarked at the end of March. 

Council members Daniel Dwyer and Donald Hunter suggested a 30-day period, to avoid further fines. As long as your payment gets postmarked by that end date, no further penalties pop up. That sounds reasonable. And to be honest, reasonable is what we should all be shooting for. 

BRIAN CARLTON is the editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. He can be reached at Brian.Carlton@