Very soon, there will be consequences for unpaid parking tickets in Nevada.

The city is working on changes to its parking violations ordinance and to the look of its parking tickets.

This is happening, according to Director of Public Safety and Police Chief Ric Martinez, to basically level the playing field.

“If you know you can violate the law and park wherever you want without penalty, why are you going to modify your behavior,” Martinez stated as a rhetorical question.

Statistically, 457 parking tickets have been issued in Nevada in the past two years. Fifty-five percent of those ticketed have paid the fine. But, that means nearly half have not. And at this time, the city has no way of collecting those fines, unless it chooses to take someone to court. Taking someone to court isn’t cost-effective when you consider that most fines are $50 (snow ordinance violations) and under.

There is, however, one thing the city can do and that is to work with the Story County Treasurer’s office on a 28-E agreement that will have the treasurer’s office put a hold on the renewal of registration to anyone with unpaid parking tickets. That is what the city of Nevada is going to do.

In a report Martinez prepared for city leaders, he noted, “The Code of Iowa allows for municipalities to work with the county treasurer to put a hold on the ability of a person to renew a registration if the treasurer’s office has been notified the person has unpaid parking tickets.”

Martinez outlined that currently, when parking tickets are issued, the city’s police clerk enters the information into the department’s record management system and no other action is taken until the parking ticket is paid. Once paid, records are updated to reflect the payment. If a parking ticket remains unpaid, no other action takes place.

Once the 28-E agreement goes into effect, which Martinez predicts will happen around October if approved by the City Council, a newly designed parking ticket will be used. “The parking ticket, utilizing bullet points, will inform the registered owner of the vehicle that the fine will need to be paid in 20 days, either in person (to the police department), by mail or online,” he said.

The tickets also note that ticketed parties have 20 days to contest their ticket, and they must go to the Nevada Police Department to set up a court date if that is what they choose to do.

If unpaid after 20 days and no one has contested it, a first-class letter will be mailed to the registered vehicle owner with information that they have 30 days from the date of the parking violation to pay or else a hold will be placed on the registered owner’s ability to renew the registration on the vehicle.

“I think this is the fairest way to enforce it for everybody,” Martinez said. And it’s important, he added, “because if you don’t enforce it, what are you saying to people who are responsible and do pay their tickets?”

Most tickets will now increase by $5 because that is the amount the county treasurer’s office will charge the city to put a hold on each ticket.

“This is not about generating a lot of money,” Martinez said. “If we wanted to make money, we’d increase the fines a lot more.”

The most common parking violations committed in Nevada would be the snow ordinance, which will increase from $50 to $55, and then a number of violations — all night parking, no parking zone, parking prohibited, continuous parking, parking adjacent to the curb and others — that will all go from $25 to $30.

The most expensive parking violation in Nevada is the handicapped parking violation, which will go from $100 to $105. Martinez noted that thankfully, they have not seen this violation very often in Nevada.

For those wondering what revenue the city would get if all the past two years’ worth of parking tickets were paid, the answer is $4,100, and Martinez said the money from parking tickets goes directly into the city’s general fund, not to the police department specifically.

He reiterates that money is not the reason he’s seeking to crack down on unpaid tickets. “There’s a reason the parking ordinance is there. Our ultimate goal is to cut down on parking violations, and especially on many repeat offenders.”