MADEIRA BEACH — The city has joined a growing list of Pinellas County municipalities that have their parking tickets processed by a private vendor rather than the county Clerk of the Circuit Court to get a bigger percentage of the fines paid.
The others are Belleair, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, St. Pete Beach and Tarpon Springs, said Connie Daniels, a director with court and operational services for the clerk of the courts.
Madeira Beach’s finance director, Vincent M. Tenaglia, told city commissioners in January the county was charging $10 for each $25 ticket, or 40 percent of the total. The city decided to use a company, Complus Data, instead, which charges 12.5 percent. The new collections agreement began Monday, Tenaglia said.
“Contracting with Complus Data, rather than Pinellas County, may save the city $25,000 to $70,000 a year, depending on parking enforcement activity levels,” Tenaglia’s memorandum states.
St. Pete Beach opted to go with a private vendor years ago, City Manager Mike Bonfield said.
“The clerk of the court was charging more than double than what the private vendor was,” Bonfield said.
In addition, the clerk of the court wasn’t making follow-up efforts to collect unpaid tickets, passing that responsibility back to St. Pete Beach, he said.
“The impression we got was the clerk really didn’t want to do it,” Bonfield said.
St. Pete Beach’s private vendor makes an extra effort to collect unpaid tickets, Bonfield said.
Sometimes, it is tourists using rental cars who don’t pay tickets, thinking they are safe because they weren’t using their own vehicles, Bonfield said. But the private vendor is able to collect because tourists leave credit card information with the rental car companies and sign agreements to pay any costs associated with driving the vehicle, the city manager said.
From Oct. 1 through March 31, St. Pete Beach collected $20,604 in parking tickets, and it expects to take in roughly $75,000 by the end of the year. That amount comes close to paying for the employees who monitor the meters, he said.