Parking Fines Raised to Deter Violators

Manassas approved an increase in parking fines Monday in the hopes of deterring violations, a decision several months in the making.

The city has long had the lowest fines of any of its neighbors, charging $15 for the majority of parking violations. Under the plan, Manassas will charge $25 for general infractions, such as parking too long in a timed spot or having an expired registration.

The fine for violations that threaten public safety -- such as blocking a fire hydrant or fire lane or obstructing traffic -- will double to $50, and the fine for wrongfully parking in a handicapped zone will double, to $100.

The increases are expected to generate an additional $64,000 in annual revenue, said Police Chief John J. Skinner.

"The city's parking schedule is, in fact, no longer current," Skinner said at Monday's City Council meeting, explaining that the current fines are often not taken seriously by drivers because they are so much lower than the rest of Northern Virginia. The fines have not been reviewed in about 10 years, he said.

For example, the fine for a general infraction is $15 in Manassas, $35 in Prince William County and $48 in Alexandria. Under the new fine schedule, Skinner said, Manassas will be generally consistent with Manassas Park and Prince William County.

"If the fine structure is very low, people don't seem to mind getting a ticket," said Lt. Robert Bagshaw. "So they're willing to take the risk at $15. We're hoping that at $25 or $50, they're not."

The amendment to the existing city ordinance would become effective at the next City Council meeting in two weeks, and Skinner said intends to start enforcing it in mid-July.

Council Favors Grzejka for Interim Post

Asked to rank their choices for an interim commissioner of revenue, the Manassas City Council unanimously tapped one of its own: Vice Mayor John P. Grzejka (R), who will step down from the council if he nabs the desired spot.

The council forwarded its preferences among the four nominees it will send on to the Prince William County Circuit Court. The court will make the final decision in picking a temporary commissioner to replace Gary Plauger, who died last month.

The council's second pick was Edward B. Wright III, a hopeful who missed the city's noon deadline Friday. City Attorney Robert W. Bendall said the two-hour discrepancy will not affect the standing of Wright, who is director of leasing and sales at his family business, Wright Realty, in Manassas.

George L. Byrne, a city employee, ranked third in Manassas's estimation, while retiree Ronald R. Hammersley came in at fourth.

Manassas will forward all the names to the Circuit Court.

In Manassas Park, the parallel procedure among three candidates -- Eugenia Ludvigsen, Yolanda Smith and Debra D. Wood -- to replace late revenue commissioner William Steele was slated for last night's City Council meeting after press time.