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Syracuse council approves "booting," wants more fiscal input

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Syracuse will begin going after the roughly 19,000 drivers with multiple unpaid parking tickets in a few months thanks to a new deal to ramp up "booting."

The Common Council Monday approved contracting the enforcement and administration of boots to the private company PayLock. The city already uses PayLock for support services in parking enforcement.

The council estimates those 19,000 parking violators owe Syracuse about $8 million in unpaid fines and accrued fees and interest.

Enforcement of booting has waned over recent years, from about 11 cars per day to about four.

Racking up three parking tickets in 90 days will make someone eligible for a boot, which costs several hundred dollars to have removed.

Those with lots of tickets will have some time to pay up before booting begins, says councilor Kathleen Joy.

"Are they going to get out there tomorrow aggressively? No," she said. "So maybe there’s an opportunity to get paid up. [You] have a chance to ‘beat the boot’ and I would encourage everybody to do that."

PayLock currently provides support services for Syracuse in exchange for a 15 percent cut of the removal fees. That fee will now rise to 28 percent.

Fiscal strategy

The council is also looking to get more involved with coming up with ways to deal with Syracuse's trouble fiscal situation.

On Monday, it released its own fiscal strategy that contains ways to generate more revenue and decrease cost. It comes as Syracuse will begin writing its budget in a few weeks.

Syracuse is facing a $20 million budget gap, according to the council, and is about $300 million in debt, according to the state comptroller's office.

The council's proposal calls for new or better collection of fees for services or contracts it enters. That means more service agreements with nonprofits, which this has had some luck with. Or making sure it collects all fees for rentals of city spaces like Clinton Square for summer festivals.

"We have to look at the services that we provide, the people who pay for them and the people who don’t, and the entities that don’t," Joy said, who chairs the finance committee. "And try to make sure that it’s fair across the board, that we’re not nickel-and-diming, but understanding that we have to be creative in the ways that we raise revenues."

Joy says she and other councilors will meet with the mayor's administration soon to discuss the plan.