Out of order parking meters cost Detroit an estimated $80,000 - KMSP-TV

Out of order parking meters cost Detroit an estimated $80,000

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Out of order parking meter in Detroit Out of order parking meter in Detroit
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Parking meters generate $2 million a year for Detroit, but that is not the only way they help the cash-strapped city. Expired parking meters bring in even more dough.

However, from downtown to Midtown to the New Center, Detroit's high tech parking meters are flaming out.

The city said 80 to 90 of the meters are on the fritz. Some have been out for a month or more.

Meters that control up to six spots are worth up to $90 a day for the city. When you spread that out six days a week over an entire year, that adds up to more than $28,000 or just about what it costs to pay a Detroit police officer for a whole year.

Detroit Parking Director Shawny DeBerry blames dead batteries. The meters use a special kind of battery that can't be found at the corner store. DeBerry acknowledged that this predicament calls for at least teensy-weensy bit of improvement.

"We're trying to manage it a little bit better so that we can try to plan for when the batteries may or may not go down," she said.

DeBerry estimates that the meter snafu has cost Detroit $80,000, and the wait for new batteries could cost the city another $80,000 or more. Altogether, that is enough to hire five new cops, and it raises questions about the reputation of an agency some consider Detroit's most ruthless and relentless.

"They talk about our efficiency, they are talking about the enforcement side, and they are still enforcing. Nothing has changed as it relates to that," DeBerry said.

In other words, you can still get nailed for parking at a broken meter. DeBerry said enforcement officers are still ticketing drivers who exceed the spaces' one or two hour limit, and if you insist on paying for parking, the parking department will not turn you away.

"Will the city take donations? Sure. You want to donate to the City of Detroit, we're always willing to accept donations," DeBerry said.

The city hopes to avoid these problems in the future by installing new meters that run on sunlight and nine-volt batteries. They have installed some, but they have a long way to go.

The city is likely losing far more money than anyone suspects because I found that many of the old time meters are out of order, too.

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