Kent parking violators beware

City plans to add second enforcement officer in 2019

Drivers who violate parking laws in Kent won’t get away with it as much over the next two years as city leaders plan to add a second parking enforcement officer.

Mayor Dana Ralph proposed the second position, part of her 2019-2020 budget, as a way to provide additional enforcement in the downtown parking district (where limits are two hours) and in residential parking zones.

“Enforcement in the residential parking zones would allow residents and their guests to park in the designated neighborhoods and deter commuters, event attendees and students from parking in these areas,” Ralph said in her proposed budget. “Enforcement in the downtown business district would potentially clear parking spots taken by (Sounder train) commuters, which would free up parking for customers.”

City leaders expect the position to nearly pay for itself with additional ticket revenue. The cost for a full-time position is $94,550 for salaries and benefits. The cost for a 0.75 position is $76,660.

“Assuming a proportionate increase in tickets issued and fines paid, each parking enforcement position could generate revenues to recover at least 70 percent of the cost, which equates to $66,000 and $54,000 for a 1.0 FTE and a 0.75 FTE, respectively,” according to city budget documents.

The fine is $50 for most city parking violations.

The City Council agreed to add the second position during a Tuesday night workshop. Council members even discussed making the second position full time rather than the 0.75 (FTE) proposed by Ralph.

“If we were to increase it to a full FTE, would we stand to gain to having more tickets written?” asked Councilwoman Marli Larimer.

City Finance Director Aaron BeMiller replied that a second full-time position would generate similar revenue to the initial full-time spot.

“It would still be at about the 70 percent level,” BeMiller said.

Ralph brought up the proposal for a second parking enforcement officer after city officials looked to add residential parking zones in the Mill Creek neighborhood, where Sounder train commuters often park because the Sound Transit parking garage fills up, and at neighborhoods near Kentridge High School because students park on those streets. Kent has a residential parking zone in North Park to keep attendees of accesso ShoWare Center events out of the neighborhood.

“This is a conservative estimate,” Ralph said on Tuesday about the 70 percent figure. “The whole conversation started around the Mill Creek zone and Kentridge and my concern was you can’t add more work to the one position. … If we have two bodies and the new parking zones, we are going to hit this, if not better.”

BeMiller said the figure could even hit 80 percent.

The council will continue discussion of the parking enforcement positions as well as other budget issues at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, prior to the regular council meeting. The council is expected to vote on the budget on Nov. 20. Residents can testify about the budget at each of those meetings.

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