New York City residents are frustrated with the excessive amounts and expensive parking tickets distributed each year, yet Parking Enforcement workers struggle with their low income salary.
When a person parks their car in an area that requires paying a meter, there is always one ‘thing’ lingering on their mind. That ‘thing’ is how much time is left on the meter before a ticket gets written up on the car. “Parking Enforcement workers are like hawks. They are always keeping an eye out for cars that are just a few minutes past the time expiration so they can write up a ticket. Then again you always have to take into consideration that it is their job and they do have to meet a requirement for tickets written,” said Queens resident, John Pritsiolas. The New York City revenue from parking is a shocking amount and people tend to take out all of the anger on the workers who distribute the tickets. These workers are not getting paid much either, especially with the economic struggles that are being experienced.
According to a Department of Transportation website, New York City distributes an average of over 22,000 tickets a day. These tickets can cost anywhere between 35 dollars to 115 dollars, depending on the parking violation that was committed.
When told these numbers, Queens resident Steve Panagioulakis was shocked. “That’s insane! Especially for a person like me to hear because I’m always driving to different areas and parking my car where paying a meter is needed,” said Panagioulakis. Panagioulakis is an All-State insurance broker in Astoria, Queens and believes he is a frequent victim of these parking tickets. “Whenever I park my car, I am always looking at my watch to see how much time I have left on the meter. I’m always keeping an eye on this because I know how once the time expires, they’ll be there to write me up. And that’s why I get frustrated every time I see a meter maid, even though they’re just doing their job,” said Panagioulakis.
According to the Department of Transportation website, if a vehicle is towed, the owner must pay a fine of 250 to 300 dollars. Fordham University student, Michael Kohlios was a victim of having his car towed one afternoon in Forest Hills, Queens. “I went for lunch with my girlfriend and could not find my car when I went back to where I parked it,” said Kohlios. Kohlios parked in a residential area where parking was restricted for resident’s cars only.
“I was lucky that someone who was outside saw what happened. They said an officer was walking by and saw my car there. There wasn’t even a sign anywhere on that block. Anyway, I thought they would just write up a ticket but I guess they wanted to move my car,” said Kohlios. He found his car at an impound nearby and was fined 200 dollars
Ever since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office in 2001, the amount of parking tickets distributed per year increased 41 percent, according to a Daily News article written by Gina Salamone. She also wrote that New York City issues about nine million tickets each year and collects about 624 million dollars in fines per year.
After hearing those numbers, people could be more aware as to how frequently tickets are distributed. Retired New York Police Department officer Heidi Rizzo said she saw how some police officers would make it a point to just look for parking violations. “I was never that focused on giving out parking tickets. My job was focused on searching for people doing graffiti (vandalism) but it was crazy to see how some cops would make it a priority to write people up,” said Rizzo
Queens business owner Harry Yanakis gets angered seeing how much police officers focus on giving out parking tickets. “It’s like, instead of doing the right thing and pulling over a drunk driver, or trying to catch someone seriously breaking the law, police focus more on meeting a quota and making money for the city. Let Parking Enforcement handle giving out tickets,” said Yanakis.
As New York City residents complain and take out their anger on Parking Enforcement workers, they fail to understand that the workers are just following guidelines set out by the city. “I saw people arguing with parking enforcement every day, but it really wouldn’t get them anywhere. At the end of the day, these workers are just doing what the city tells them,” said Rizzo. Parking Enforcement workers need to meet a quota set out by the city per month said Rizzo.
These workers do not get paid well either. The average annual salary of a Parking Enforcement worker per year is 34,710 dollars, according to findthedata.org. “Wow, that’s rough. How do you even support a family on that kind of salary?” said Yanakis. Yanakis has two daughters; ages 14 and 16, and said it is not easy putting them through school and trying to pay off other expenses.
The average hourly pay of Parking Enforcement worker is 16.69 dollars an hour, before taxes are deducted, according to findthedata.org. “I sometimes do feel bad blaming these workers for a parking ticket I end up getting. In the long run, they’re just doing their job. I even see them outside during the rain and snow which must be tough,” said Panagioulakis.
Parking Enforcement workers do not work under the best conditions. They are expected to be outside walking the streets in the rain and cold, and still it seems that they don’t make a great amount of money. What some people fail to take into consideration is that, these workers may be working to support a family, and it definitely is not easy with their salary.
“Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid criticizing these workers for giving out tickets so frequently. It’s hard because not everyone knows the facts and how much these workers really make,” said Pritsiolas.