By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Two weeks after the end of free Saturday parking in downtown Red Bank, not a single ticket has been written for overtime violations on Saturdays, redbankgreen has learned.
And it has nothing to do with full compliance from the meter feeders.
The borough, it turns out, hasn’t been enforcing the Saturday parking charge, and won’t start until next month, even though the rationale for the change was to boost revenue for the cash-strapped town.
“We’re going to start enforcing the weekend after the fireworks,” Assistant Borough Administrator Gary Watson said.
When asked why, he said, “I don’t know any rhyme or reason.”
Other officials, when pressed on how the borough intended to schedule its two-employee parking enforcement unit to include Saturdays, kept close to the vest.
Administrator Stanley Sickels said the employees will work on a staggered schedule to cover the extended enforcement hours. But he wouldn’t say if there actually has been enforcement yet.
“The ordinance is in place,” he said. “Put your money in the meters.”
Sickels said police officers are also authorized to write tickets for expired meters. But a trip into the court administrator’s office on Tuesday to look at records showed that hasn’t happened, either.
“The plan is to enforce parking on Saturdays,” Sickels said.
In April, the borough doubled downtown parking fees, from 50 cents an hour to a dollar, in order to help close a budget gap lost from giving away parking for free on Saturdays a move made early last year to show goodwill and help promote downtown businesses. Permit fees were raised by 33 percent at that time, as well.
But after a year-long experiment with free Saturday parking, where the borough lost an average of $10,000 a month, the council lifted the moratorium and started charging for Saturdays beginning June 5.
The lack of enforcement angered at least one downtown merchant who asked not to be identified. He some customers have come into his store thinking Saturday parking was still free, and have run out to feed meters when he told them they could be ticketed.
“On Mondays, they’re still collecting the money that people put into the meters,” he said of parking authority. “But they’re not telling people they don’t have to.”